Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 21, 2008
Spring's promise melts winter's ice
Just as Jesus' comfort soothes during times of soul-wrenching despair
My Glass is Half Full
By MARK PICKUP
In this part of the world, we are still in the darkest, coldest part of winter.
The nights are long and days are short. Many people suffer from depression during this time of year. They called it the "winter blues." More severe cases have been termed by psychiatrists as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
January and February may be the coldest months but they are not the darkest. That distinction of shortest day/longest night actually occurs around Dec. 22 when the sun is at its furthest south point. It's little comfort on brittle January nights.
People with money often flee Canada from January through March, but the rest of us endure. We bundle up and put our shoulders to the sharp winds of winter. Exhaust fumes from chimneys and automobiles hang low against a steely grey sky in frigid still sub-zero air.
For someone like me who moves about with the assistance of a wheelchair, the risk of getting stranded in a snowbank makes me unwilling to leave the warmth of my little house. Days pass indoors and turn into weeks: I do not venture outside except for supplies of groceries or the occasional doctor appointment.
As with all things in life, I can choose to grumble about the deepest part of winter and make myself miserable - or I can make the best of an unfavourable situation.
A weather-imposed cloister gives me time to rest, retiring early and rising late. Time is spent in front of a crackling fireplace either writing or reading books that sat on the bookcase gathering dust during previous busy summer months. Winter gives me time to contemplate, meditate and pray the rosary in sweet hours of devotion. Forced stillness encourages me to listen for God's voice and to sense his presence in my life.
The deepest and darkest part of winter is like a metaphor of life.
I can endure winter knowing that the hope of spring will follow. The earth beneath the snow is as hard as iron, yet it will thaw and bring forth new life. Grass and wild flowers will replace ice and snow, but not yet.
In the cold darkness of my personal winter - which is aggressive multiple sclerosis - I have found that Jesus is with me.
He comforts and warms me, teaches and guides me on to new internal growth.
I know that my winter will give way to a divine spring and the internal landscape of my life will be transformed to life as surely as April will renew the physical landscape around me into lush, new green life.
I suffer catastrophic disease in the hope that I will emerge into the light of Christ, renewed and transformed by eternal life with Christ in heaven. The difference between heaven and earth is this: There will be no more winters in heaven.
I believe that every trial endured with the sufferer looking up to God will eventually yield good.
In the Book of Romans, St. Paul said, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."
He also said "all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose."
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says "Even though enlightened by him (God) in whom it believes, faith is often lived in darkness and can be put to the test." The Church reminds us that in the Virgin Mary's "pilgrimage of faith" she too walked into a "night of faith" in sharing the darkness of her son's suffering and death" (nos. 164 and 165).
We look to Jesus Christ the "the leader and perfecter of faith." He is our ultimate example of striving forward through darkness for the sake of the joy that lay before him. Christ endured the cross and took his place at the right hand of God.
Sorrow to joy
Suffering and sorrow yielded to God will, in the end, give way to understanding and inexpressible joy. The bitter cold of winter gives rest to the earth in anticipation of another summer's growing season.
During the dead of winter when the cold winds of February blow snow into mountains of drifts and rattle the windows and chill the bones, it is easy to wonder how anything will ever grow again.
But growth will come again as surely as the sun rises with increasing strength each morning. The changes may be imperceptibly gradual at first but they will culminate in nature's glory.
It is another metaphor of nature's witness to a larger spiritual reality.
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