This time of year

I hate this time of year. Don’t we all? It’s cold. It’s after Christmas. There’s little to look forward to in the near future, other than your hands cracking in dryness of the winter air. The credit card bills are big. The heating bills are big. And you know that no matter what, you’re in for a good long spell of non-great weather.

I was thinking about that this morning as I drove it. It was beautiful this morning. It’s been very cold, and then we got 3 inches of snow. The snow clung to the trees, and lay undisturbed on the surface of a frozen lake I pass in the morning. The sky was blue — the light blue somewhere between Robin’s egg and sky blue in your Crayola 64 colors set. The white of the snow, the blue of the sky, the dark green of the pine below, all brightly lit in the cold sunlight.

This is the only time of year when I’m not trying to hang on to the moment. During spring, the changes happen so fast that you know what you saw today may be gone and past by tomorrow. In summer, the very warmth of the humid air reminds you that it’s fleeting, and will be gone soon. Autumn is hardest. The momentum is turning so quickly towards winter, and yet it’s the most beautiful time of year for me. The harder I grasp the seasons, the faster they slip from me. But this mid-winter I let go my hold on time. This is the time of year I have been dreading, and it is here. And it will be here, for what seems like an eternity. When this time of year is beautiful — which it certainly can be — I do not feel the poignancy of eventual loss. I can simply relax into the beauty without fear. There is a freedom to that.

Every night, especially during the winter, I put a lotion on my face. In part because the dryness robs me of moisture, but in part to prevent the inevitable wrinkles aging will bring me. I think of my own mortality for 45 seconds. I will never be younger than I am now. I will never be more beautiful. I will never be freer, with more options. I will never be more slender. I have long passed the time where I might be a ballerina, or an ice skating champion. I have passed the time where I might be precocious. I have settled into a job and a career and a marriage which are good, but not glamorous. I might never be glamorous.

I’m young enough that I haven’t started holding onto my own time, like I do to the spring. My life is in June, passing into July. Winter will come. I know it. But I hope that I may move gracefully through my time, without clenching it in my fists, enjoying the beauty of the moments. And I hope that when my winter comes, I may relax into it, knowing with a Christian hope that the Spring that follows is even more wonderful than the crocuses and daffodils of our world in Spring

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