For approximately 90 days out of every year, I wonder why I continue to reside in the state of Michigan. I know there are people out there who love the cold and snow of winter. I am not one of them. In fact, I believe I have earned the right to be a charter member of the Winter Completely Sucks Club. I’m taking applications for other individuals who hold the same belief. Applications are due December 21st–see what I did there?
I will acknowledge that winter has its merits. When you have nowhere to go, and the snow is gently falling in huge, feathery flakes, I will acknowledge that it is pretty. When the sky is blue, and the sun is shining, and the air is not so frigid that your eyes water, it can be invigorating to take a brisk walk. When your six-year-old gleefully throws himself down in fresh snow to make a snow angel, your heart warms your whole body.
However, those moments are too few for me to embrace winter. Usually, a heavy snowfall arrives during a commute and it seems every driver I share the road with has completely forgotten how to drive in the snow. The sun goes on vacation for weeks on end. As much as I enjoy watching Tommy play in the snow, I would be just as happy watching him splash in a wave, or build a sand castle. Sorry, Winter. It’s not me. It’s YOU.
However, there are about 270 days of the year when living in Michigan makes complete sense. I was reminded of that this past Monday, March 20th, when Spring officially arrived. Signs of spring revealed themselves, even without the calendar declaration. Pale green leaves pushed through the softening soil. Chirping birds perched in naked trees announced the new season. Longer days of daylight promised warmer temperatures to come.
And, for me, with every sign from Mother Nature, something else arrives. A mood shift occurs. The sense of dread at facing the elements when I step out the door weakens. The Seasonal Mood Disorder that I’ve self-diagnosed (thank you again, WebMD) starts packing its bags. Every drop of spring sunshine, every warm breeze, every sign of new life is a beacon for my winter weary soul.
Upon reflection, the exit of winter is not just about warmer temperatures and increased daylight. Spring is also about the metaphorical rejuvenation that occurs. With every layer of outerwear that is shed, a psychological layer sheds as well. As nature awakens, something inside me awakens. Something that was dormant during the cold, dark months. Something that my soul needs. Something that must require some period of hibernation to recharge because it cannot sustain year round. Something that I miss desperately, and rejoice when it returns.
The second reading at church this weekend helped me to identify my Spring Something. As these words were read aloud, “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth…Therefore, it says, ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light,” (Ephesians 5: 8-9, 14) a connection between the reading and my Spring Something began to form.
Hearing those words reminded me of Father Gregory Boyle, a priest who works with the inner city gang members of Los Angelos through his Homeboy Ministries. In his book, Tattoos on the Heart, he wrote:
Jesus says, “You are the light of the world.” I like even more what Jesus doesn’t say. He does not say, “One day, if you are more perfect and try really hard, you’ll be light.” He doesn’t say, “If you play by the rules, cross your T’s and dot your I’s, then maybe you’ll become light.” No. He says, straight out, “You are light.” It is the truth of who you are, waiting only for you to discover it.”
Friends, we are light. YOU are LIGHT. I.AM.LIGHT.
And that’s what Spring’s rebirth awakens in me. I am light. I am good enough. My flawed, messy, perfectly imperfect self is good enough. For 90 days I dwelt in the harsh, dark, cold winter and that was enough for me to know that I didn’t want to stay there any longer. Physically or metaphorically. I welcome the sun and the warmth and the light in the world and within myself. I’m so excited to enjoy it for the next 270 days.
P.S. Today’s media is the drawing of a lifelong friend, Dave Loveland. I cannot find the appropriate words to proclaim how talented he is. I’ve admired his work since we were in Mrs. Snyder’s third grade class together, which was also the first time we collaborated. I wrote a story about a monkey and a snake in the jungle and he provided the illustrations. We won the chance to attend Young Authors, a celebration for elementary authors and illustrators, sponsored by Adrian College. But Dave isn’t just a talented artist, he has a beautiful spirit as well. Thank you, Dave.