It’s about this time in the long stretch of winter that I begin to ache for spring. Like others, by March, I have become dulled to the beauty of winter. Though the weekly prayers at Centering Space keep my heart open to seeing the passage of time and seasons with fresh eyes, mostly I just want the cold days to be over. I long for bright flowers and warm summer evenings on the porch.
While our impatience with winter is only human, I pause and remember that if we rush through the change in seasons in nature and in our lives, we will find ourselves missing that edge between winter and spring with lessons to teach us.
What is the natural purpose and symbolism in this time of thawing? It is in that place between despair and hope that we find the beauty of the thaw. It is where God is present to us in our longing for what we have lost and what we have not yet opened ourselves to receive. The thaw is a fertile place of possibility. In seasonal terms, this is the time when hardened seeds are softened for germination. Without this freezing and thawing, the seed embryo will not overcome dormancy and germinate. It is this difficult process which causes the seed to develop cracks in the shell and impels it to move toward nutrients and light. Eventually, from this hardship comes the beauty of new life.
The story of our souls isn’t much different. We like to be comfortable, but if we were to remain in easy conditions, we might have little motivation to grow. It isn’t that we should feel guilty for seeking comfort; it’s just that no matter how we try, things will change in cycles of comfort and discomfort throughout life. It is just the way things are. The thaw is a call to “come out of dormancy.”
So this March, instead of rushing through the thaw, I will take my time and recognize that no matter how deep the freeze feels—spiritual or material—God is there in the thawing to call us to new life. It is helpful to remember that our hardened shells are being broken open so that we are moved to reach for spiritual nutrients and the light of God’s love. Embrace hope!
Ginny May Schiros