What is it about winter that makes me feel so reminiscent?
Everything slows down. The nights are longer. And there seems to be more – s p a c e – for quiet and contemplation. Now, with three kids, space is generally pretty limited. (As is the quiet.) But the past few weeks have found me trapped inside my mind more than usual, thinking about the past.
On February 21, 2004, I stepped foot in Cincinnati for the first time. It’s an easy date to remember because it was the day after my brother’s wedding. And I’m glad I can remember it gives me a timestamp for that monumental day.
You see, at the time, February 21 didn’t seem so monumental. It was cold and I was visiting a good friend who was to become my boyfriend and I thought Cincinnati was pretty cool. But nothing about that weekend could have prepared me for all that would happen in the next few weeks, the next few months, and the next ten years.
It was winter. And, in winter, everything feels slow and quiet. So slow and quiet that you’d never know what’s actually happening under the surface.
The truth is that winter is alive, even if it looks like it’s sleeping.
Winter is like the calm before the storm
or the silent, early stage of labor
or the kettle of steaming water just before the whistle.
We cycle through the seasons every year but, for some of us, “winter” (in the proverbial sense) can last much longer. When I first arrived in Cincinnati, I was deeply imbedded in one of those winter-y seasons of my life. At the time, the cold, dark, and quiet of February 21st were apropos. And that cold, dark quiet stuck around for quite some time.
But, speaking literally, I’ve always loved winter.
I love winter because, even though the ground is frozen solid, there is magic underneath it all. It’s the kind of magic you can’t see, hear, or smell because it’s hidden until the ground thaws.
Why am I thankful for winter?
I’m thankful for winter because winter ends. And, when it ends, I’m reminded that every winter ends.
There is a storm brewing,
that baby is about to be born,
and you will hear the steam whistle.
We know this because storms and babies and hot cups of tea have all happened before and we can trust that they will happen again.
Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time looking back on my first few years in Cincinnati. At the time, I could have never known how monumental those years would be and what I would find at the other end. But, looking back, there were markers along the way that I simply didn’t have eyes to see.
If reminiscing involves looking back for the subtle hints we missed the first time around, then faith involves looking forward to what we have every reason to believe lies ahead.
After the ground thaws.
When the lightning crashes.
When our baby lets out that first cry.
When we finally warm our hands on that piping hot cup of tea.
Winter is a lot like the still railroad track the moment before it starts to rattle.
Maybe faith is something like holding your ear to the rail.
Are you listening?