United Church of Christ

In the Bleak Midwinter

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan.
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone.

I have sung that hymn many times. It came to mind this morning after my drive in to work on slippery, snowy, icy Cleveland roads.

Every other Facebook post I see is of a friend or acquaintance somewhere capturing the beauty of the snow-covered landscape, complaining about the icy and cold conditions in their area, or announcing that work, school, or worship has been canceled due to wintry conditions.

We are in the bleak midwinter where the frosty wind makes moan, where Earth is hard as iron and water like stone.

Spirits can ebb a bit in this season. Our outlook can fade a bit. We seem to embody, almost without awareness, the lessening of the light in the long, dark days. We miss the warmth of the northern sun, the light breeze of the spring on our cheek, the evening sojourn through neighborhood sidewalks, or the comforting sip of ice-tea on the front porch as we relax after an evening meal and watch the night settle quietly and calmly into its slow, more comfortable walk to tomorrow.

I was awakened at 5 am this morning by a snow-blower outside my bedroom window.

Welcome to winter in Cleveland.

Ah, but this is the week pitchers and catchers report. If you are not a baseball fan, that means that teams will begin reporting to the Southern climes of Florida and Arizona and begin their six week ritual march toward opening day the first week-end in April. For some, the first robin is their moment of turning, the signal that spring is just around the corner. For me, it is the reporting of pitchers and catchers to training camp.

The cycle of life rolls on.

It always does.

Shortly layers of sweaters and coats and scarves and gloves and hats will be shed for light jackets and wind-breakers; drives to work or school in the morning will be lit again by an earlier rising son; and evenings will be extended in order to accommodate that first cook-out on the patio grill or the lingering conversation on the front porch after the evening repast.

Like all things, this bleak and moaning season of winter weal will end and the dawning hope new life beyond it will emerge.

Death becomes life.

Dark becomes light.

Death becomes resurrection.

Linger but a while, and let God do Her work. But trust in the Lord and you shall endure.

Though sorrow linger for the night, yet joy shall come in the morning.

May the long night of your bleak mid-winter soon give way to the joy of the returning robin in spring. May every pathway into the shadowed valleys lead always to the light of dawning days on this, our Journey Into the Mystic.

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