For weeks we drive to and from work in the dark, daylight a mere rumor whispered through office windows and brief lunch break glimpses. We brace ourselves for the cold, never walking out the door without at least a coat and gloves, often a scarf and hat. Surviving, not thriving, becomes the goal as we spoon hot soup into our mouths and pile on an extra blanket.
We remember summer, warmth, sunshine… but it feels like a book we read as children, a foggy memory of something not quite real. We remember when it stayed light until bedtime, when we took long walks down country roads under starry skies. They tell us someday that will happen again, but we just can’t quite believe it. We just can’t quite see it.
Winter is a lot like pain. When we hurt, we move throughout our daily tasks in the dark, happiness a mere rumor whispered through conversations with friends, soup left on doorsteps, the poetry of music, and the laughter of a child. We brace ourselves for outings, layering our hearts with cynicism and defense mechanisms and memorized answers. Surviving, not thriving becomes the goal as we go through the motions. We sit through church services, mouths moving along to words we’re not quite sure we believe that day. We pour a glass of wine, sign the rent check, show up in all the appropriate places at the appropriate times, hide in a burrito made of blankets, and binge-watch Netflix.
We remember happiness, laughter, joy… but it feels like a book we read as children, a foggy memory of something not quite real. We remember when everything was “okay,” when we smiled from the deepest place within us and skipped down country roads under starry skies. They tell us someday it will happen again, someday it won’t hurt so bad, God has a plan, but we just can’t quite believe it. We just can’t quite see it.
Then one day, we drive to work and notice the sun rising over a field. On the way home, we catch the last glimpse of that same sun setting. The days get longer, minutes at a time. We still bundle up, but we forget our gloves one day and our fingers don’t fall off. A friend asks how we are and we say, “not even half okay,” and a tiny sliver of ice falls off our hearts. It’s not even February yet and there’s another wave of cold that “bitter doesn’t begin to describe,” but there is something else, too.There is hope. Creeping through the cracks like summer creeps slowly into winter. One glimpse at a time, it peeks out from behind a cloud then darts away. It comes and goes in waves, but eventually it comes more than it goes. Sometimes it’s warm for a week or two or three, and then an ice storm hits and back into the blanket burrito we go.
This is the thing about summer, though: No matter how long winters lasts or how many weeks of bitter cold we endure, summer always comes. It doesn’t matter how many times we’re teased with warmth and then thrown back down by winds from the north-east, eventually the sun stays out and warms our skin again.
This is the thing about hope, though: No matter how long pain lasts or how many weeks of bitter hurt we endure, hope always prevails.
Hope is like summer. It always comes around again.
[Note: I am not depressed. I just live in Michigan and it’s currently negative one million and seventeen degrees with no sign that it will ever be warm again. I was thinking about hope and cold and winter and pain and sunshine, and this poured out of my fingers. I like my life a lot. Amen.]