I woke up to a blanket of snow covering the ground. The first real snowfall of the year. I have to admit, even though I’m from North Dakota, I don’t love the snow. I blame it on all those mornings growing up where I would have to wake up at 6:00 or earlier to shovel out the driveway in order to make it to my 8:00 class. I would shovel and get cold and bitter because I kept thinking that I should have a father to do this. And I do have a father; I just have a father who is not there.
But in a weird way, I think I needed the snow.
I needed the snow because I need to reminded of death. I need bury the negative thoughts and feelings I have. I need to put to death the anger that I let burrow and build up inside of me. These hidden hurts need to be exposed, dug out with a pair of tweezers, if I ever expect to heal.
Parker Palmer writes about winter:
“It is a season when death’s victory can seem supreme: few creatures stir, plants do not visibly grow, and nature feels like our enemy.”
At the same time, while I do not like snow, I see it as a gift. Parker Palmer says that winter is accompanied by amazing gifts. The first gift he says is the beauty of the winter. It has a beauty that is different than autumn. It has a beauty that is all its own.
“Another gift is the reminder that times of dormancy and deep rest are essential to all living things. Despite all appearances, of course, nature is not dead in winter—it has gone underground to renew itself and prepare for spring. Winter is a time when we are admonished, and even inclined, to do the same for ourselves.”
So, I find that it is almost like a paradox: I need winter because I need spring. I need this outward winter because inside of my self, I have been having winter this whole time. I needed the snow to fall from the sky because inside it feels like all has been falling apart. I needed nature to turn into the rumblings inside my soul.
“Our inward winters take many forms—failure, betrayal, depression, death. But every one of them, in my experience, yields to the same advice: ‘The winters will drive you crazy until you learn to get out of them.’ Until we enter boldly into the fears we most want to avoid, those fears will dominate our lives. But when we walk directly into them—protected from frostbite by the warm garb of friendship or inner discipline or spiritual guidance—we can learn what they have to teach us. Then we discover once again that the cycle of the seasons is trustworthy and life-giving, even in the most dismaying season of all.”
That is why I need winter and I need the snow. I need it because I know that however long it takes, spring will arrive. New life will burst out of all this death.