We’re past the holidays now, have moved into the long stretch between the festive gatherings of December and the first blooms of spring.
It’s interesting, isn’t it, that winter begins on the shortest day of the year? That though the days grow longer, though the light, the blessed light, is returning, still weeks of cold and ice and snow stretch before us? That we have turned the corner, that the sun gradually stretches out her moments in the sky, and yet it is still so long before the tender shoots and curled buds, the hope of new life, will make their appearance?
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Grief is an inexplicable thing, the way it remains with you, even when you don’t feel sad, the way it hides under the surface, ready to rear its head, to wreak havoc months or even years after you think it has been dealt with, put away for good.
Most aspects of my life – my marriage, my day-to-day activities, my emotions – have experienced restoration and growth, have returned to a healthy normal, but I don’t speak or think or write about my faith, about my God, in the same way that I used to, back before. Some of this may be a permanent change, a good change, the change that comes with sorrow and experience, the culling of cliches, of pat answers, the hesitancy to ascribe actions or motivations or happenings to divine will or intervention.
But I fear that some of it is not good, not in the long term, that cynicism and apathy and fear of further pain, further disappointment might take root and make me hard, and so I hope this is just a season, just my own winter of faith that stretches long in front of and behind me. Though the light has been growing, growing, growing for months now, still ice and snow abound. But the first signs of spring approach, and I pray that I am ready.
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We are here now. I am here now: a fallow period, even though the light is returning. Joy is present and the day-to-day has returned to normal, the sadness diminished to an undetectable level. And still, still it is so long before the hope of new life makes its appearance, before the soil of the battle-scarred heart is ready to shelter the fragile shoots of spring.