The End of Winter

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Seasons conjure up memories for me like almost nothing else. Second to seasons would be smells and songs, but seasons are especially strong. I’ve heard that it takes a full calendar year–living through all four seasons–to really process the loss of someone you love. It makes sense; feeling the early breezes of spring and the first glimmers of warm days always takes me back to this time last year and to previous springs.

Spring has often been a time of waiting–a time electric with the energy of what is to come. In childhood, spring meant that summer was coming, bringing glorious sunshine and almost-endless days. These past few years, springs were spent preparing to graduate, looking for a job, preparing for a wedding, and anticipating a new baby boy. This year, I’m not waiting for anything, and I’m glad. This spring is a time of being settled; I’m only waiting for spring itself.

Yesterday on our walk we saw a yard dotted with purple crocuses and tall stems of daffodils ready to bloom. The sunshine warmed us in a non-winter way. The birds sang loudly. I wanted to throw open the windows of the house and clean it from top to bottom–to make it fresh again. I felt energy like I haven’t in a while.

Winter has been long and cold this year, even in the South. As a child, we celebrated the cold and any snow at all. This year, though the snow was beautiful, the cold was harsh.  I think of that scene from the animated The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when winter starts to melt and the White Witch’s sleigh gets stuck in the mushy green of spring.

I never understood the longing the Narnian creatures had for winter to end. Spring just seemed convenient because it meant that her sleigh was stuck. But I realize now that spring is bigger than a plot twist in the story. “Always winter and never Christmas” is symbolic and important to the Gospel story. We must proceed from the cold death of winter to the rebirth of spring. Martin Luther says,”Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.”

We need all the seasons to tell the Gospel story, and truthfully, I love each season (at least for a while). But this year, I am almost aching for spring–not just a spring of waiting but a spring of fulfillment and delight. The sacrifice of God-made-man who comes down and initiates Christmas also begins the end of this winter of cold and death. The curse is lifted. And spring can come. It’s no wonder we anticipate it so strongly!

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