The Long Winter
“It was You who set all the boundaries of the earth; You made both summer and winter.” – Psalm 74:17
I am writing to you from the past. From February 17, to be exact, when there is 7 feet of snow on the ground here in Boston, and more on the way.
My kids have been home, because of illness, vacation, or snow days, for 48 of the last 66 days. After many days in a row of staying in and getting on each other’s nerves, yesterday we decided that was it. Who cares if weather.com was threatening “killing temperatures”? We were going to kill each other if we stayed inside one more minute. Better to die of natural causes.
We tried to go sledding. We got lost on the way to the sledding hill. When we finally arrived, crabby and exhausted, we only made it halfway up the hill, sinking into snow up to our waists at every step.
And then we started to laugh. And couldn’t stop. The sun was shining, our vitamin D levels were surging, and we had snow in every orifice. Laughing seemed the better option.
Why do we have to have winter? Because it makes spring and summer so precious. All that slogging, all that shoveling, all the colds and flu and frost-nipped fingers, sharpen the sweetness of those first crocuses.
In this same way, Lent makes Easter precious. The deprivations, the solemnity and sorrow of Lent give way to the sweetness of that chocolate bunny, the blast of brass on Easter morning.
And in this same way, Death makes Life precious. If we never died—if we were guaranteed to live forever—we would get bored, or dissolute, pretty fast. But because we’re only here for a little while, no matter what you believe comes after, death makes life important.
But wait a second: what if we could love winter, not just because of spring, but for its own sake? What if we could love Lent, not just because of Easter, and Death, not just because of Life, for their own sakes, for the gifts hidden within them?
What if we could run right into all of them, starting out crabby and ending up laughing?
God of every season, help us to love our hard teachers—winter, Lent, and Death—for their own sakes, and remind us that laughter is always an option. Amen.
Molly Baskette is senior minister of First Church Somerville UCC in Somerville, MA, and the author of the book Real Good Church: How Our Church Came Back from the Dead and Yours Can Too.