It’s been a long winter. I saw a graphic recently that showed we’ve had snow in each of the last six months. For a girl who grew up mostly in the Midwest and is used to her fair share of winters, that stat was kind of mind numbing. Six months of gray, cold dreary days. Of ice and snow. Of polar vortex and potholes. If you’ve felt your spirits tested, it wasn’t your imagination. The struggle, as the kids say, is real.
If the weather wasn’t enough, the world around us piled on. More kids in cages, more rights stripped away, more corruption, more senseless violence. In our own city, at the last couple of city council meetings, we’ve been witness to the most horrible kind of testimony as people get up to speak against the passage of a LGBTQ non-discrimination ordinance for residents. And we’ve seen the cold, dark side of fear as people here fight against sheltering the homeless in Olathe. Some battles were more personal with illness, relationships, loneliness or work.
The season, though, is changing. The trees are budding. The birds are chirping. The temps are rising. Potholes are being repaired. Here we are in the season of Lent. We are ready for the light and the newness of spring. Perhaps we can use the 40 days to reflect on where we go from here, from this endless winter. Take the time to plant our feet firmly on the ground, turn our face to the sun, close our eyes and breathe in deep.
But when we open our eyes, the battles will still be here. For justice. For love. For community.
One way I’ve survived this endless winter is through poetry. For when times are just too dark and heavy, poetry provides balance. For Lent, for spring, for the battles ahead, I’ll end here with Wendell Berry’s The Peace of Wild Things.
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
© Wendell Berry. This poem is excerpted from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry
Heavenly creator, we are grateful for the lessons of the changing seasons. Let us find peace in the rain, sun and newness of spring. Help us find strength for the battles that need fighting and the wisdom to know which ones are ours to carry.
Cheri and her son, Jackson, joined Saint Andrew in 2013. She can be reached at email@example.com.