When Winter Lingers

We are over a month into spring here in northern Minnesota, but we are still wearing our woolen socks. We all know that the colors of life will eventually reveal themselves, but right now the earth is still hard and cold, the sky gray.

It has been a long, cold, snowy winter, even by Minnesota standards. The snow pile is receding in the driveway, but the breeze still has a bite to it as the locals watch for “ice out”, when the lakes finally cast off their hard coats, the force of their desire pushing shards of ice on shore, glowing blue in the evening light.

Winter is symbolic of suffering. Of waiting. Sometimes we catch a glimpse of hope on the way, and then another storm of disappointment and setback sweeps through and we wonder if maybe spring is a false hope after all. It is a hard truth that weather – and circumstances – don’t bend to desire or bow down before certainty.

Some of us wait at bedsides; for test results; for a prodigal to return or a spouse to repent. We wait for change, for healing, or even for death to bring relief. Hope deferred makes the heart sick, it says in Proverbs.

But spring always comes. New life struggles upward through the dark and damp, straining, reaching for the light. Life from death, growth from decay; the wonder of it makes us catch our breath. Reminds us of resurrection power, imperishable seed of soul and body fueling the birth of beautiful.

My beloved spoke and said to me, “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me. See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.”

Song of Songs 2:10-12

Are you pressed down into the darkness? Tasting the salty seeds of despair? Light and warmth – they are coming. The earth is tilting ever more toward the sun. Heaven is one day closer. There is no stopping the life coming for you. Forming in you.

I wrap my jacket around me and step outside onto the forest floor, softening now with the hope stirring under my feet; with promise. I glance up at the cold sun, arcing slightly higher today than yesterday, lingering longer each evening.

The waiting will end, bearing the rich fruit sown in darkness A long-delayed spring is sweetened by anticipation. As sure as the dawn, hope whispers its coming even while the darkness still lays heavy and hard in our hearts. Lift your head and listen. The season of singing is on its way.

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