When Winter Ends

Two weeks ago we had snow in the Ozarks, drifting into the road on the Sunday morning drive to church, catching in my hair as I darted into the big red doors.
Today, the windchimes sing in the warm breeze that dances into my open window. The irises are budding, ready to bloom. Dogwood and redbud color the woods. Northern Orioles taste the orange slices I strung up to bring them close enough to watch in wonder.

Spring has finally come after the never-ending winter.

As the sun’s warmth soaks the earth, I keep finding excuses to be outside, to drink up the light and heat. I have always hated winter, and this winter I have hated in particular. I resent the long dark nights, the forced days inside, the waiting for unseen processes. I want green shimmering leaves and fresh tomatoes in the garden. I want lingering evenings speckled with fireflies.

Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend discuss seasons of personal growth in their book God Will Make a Way. Like seasons of the earth, seasons of the heart have their own timetable. Each is needed, especially winter:

Cold weather and hard ground make this season appear dead and unproductive. However, winter is a very important time. You clear out dead things, debris, and stones that are in the way of future growth. You mend and repair broken fences and machines. You set up and plan for the future.

This winter has been especially difficult because the cold has reached inside as well as out. Uprooting within my soul has been an almost ubiquitous activity. The breached walls seem beyond repair, and planning for the future feels impossible with the blank slate I have been handed.

And yet.

I am learning to rest in this winter of the heart. I am learning that some of the most important work involves stillness and listening. As unproductive as I feel most days, I am realizing that God’s work is bigger than my lack. He always knows what to do, even when I feel lost. I am starting to remember that I don’t have to try so hard because I am loved — completely. I am learning to trust that my Shepherd has a plan, even when I don’t.

A couple weeks ago, I smiled at the April snowflakes that peppered my windshield. Impatience only makes the wait and winter longer. And so I pour myself another cup of tea and curl up with a book. Spring will come when winter ends.

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