O, sing unto the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things!
Those words resonated with me this morning as I listened to the birds singing. Their songs are different in different seasons and in spring, their singing is like a glorious concert written and performed just for us.
There are perhaps few things we really give concentrated thought to in order to keep our spirits alive and vibrant, in spite of the circuitous path that is called Life, but one of the truths that can feed a wilting spirit is that life is cyclical; it gives us, continually, different seasons, times when we enjoy the work of our labor, times where we prepare for the dry and cold times that come into our lives, time when must rest and wait, and times when we sing a new song because out of the dry and cold time we have gone through, there is new life.
The struggle for us as humans continues, but the season of rebirth continues as well. No period of time, no matter how dry or hard or bad or painful…lasts forever. It is part of the cycle of life.
It is exciting to see rebirth. Sometimes, winters are so bad that it is hard to believe that anything new and beautiful will ever be seen again. “Winter” comes in different forms in our lives: illnesses, loss due to natural disasters such as fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods, loss of loved ones, loss of employment. Winter. It always comes, and in our lives, it too often is brutal. Life comes at us sometimes, like unrelenting blizzards, with snow so heavy and the winds of adversity so strong that the snow comes at us sideways. Winter. We can have a house on one day and then a tornado come through and blow it to the ground as if it were a matchbox. In a matter of minutes, we lose everything, and many of us do not have the resources to just pick up and move on. Winter. We are alright at 11:00 in the morning but by 2 p.m. we are feeling strange and by 3 p.m. we are on life support because we have suffered a massive heart attack. Not only are we sick but we are poor, and somewhere within our souls we worry about how we will pay for what will be astronomical medical bills. Winter. Our child is shot dead on the streets, maybe by another child, maybe by an angry young person or by a person with a mental illness. In a matter of hours or maybe minutes, our child is gone. Winter. You are driving to work and a newly-constructed bridge falls on your car or on the car of someone you know and now, if you have survived, your body has been crushed and you will never be the same.
Winter always comes. It is not unexpected, and it is almost never welcome. Some of us can find the warmth and the possibilities in the cold of winter, but far too many of us just concentrate on the cold of winter, and we want it to go away. Winter keeps us inside, trying to stay warm, even as winter causes so many people to suffer in and by the cold. Winter is a season which too many of us do not enjoy.
But winter is a season of preparation. In our winter struggles, we often look for God in new and different ways. In our “staying inside,” we are more still and more willing to open our ears and eyes, looking for newness of life. Winter prepares us if we take advantage of the time winter affords us to prepare for the next season. Winter is brutal, but it is not eternal; none of the seasons are. If we inch ever closer to God during our periods of winter, we can feel the coming of spring, a season where there is newness of life and possibilities.
When spring comes, our souls are ready for newness because the winter we have just gone through has allowed our souls and spirits to be fertilized. Every soul needs a winter because every soul needs to be aerated, fed and fertilized. When spring comes, what winter has allowed to happen begins to show. We have new strength. We breathe a sigh of relief as we realize that we “made it through.” Our fertilized spirits are ready for God, ready for new faith, ready for new ideas. Sometimes our winters last a long time but maybe that is a blessing, if we understand the value of winter because the longer the winter, the more our spirits are fertilized and the more newness we will exude. When spring comes, the beauty that is ours, which has been fertilized and strengthened in spite of the barrenness of winter, bursts through and we are different. When spring comes, birds sing differently, and so do we.
Winter always comes, but it is also always a precursor to new life. Winter is an unpleasant season for many, but it is good for all of us, it gives us the gift, of time to regenerate in spite of our being cold from its windy, icy storms. If we can hold on, as we stand naked, as do the trees whose leaves fall to the ground in preparation for winter as the storms violate our sense of normalcy, we set us up for the newness that is the definition of spring.
O sing unto the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things!
Indeed God does marvelous things in spite of and in the midst of, the winters of our lives, and perhaps the greatest gift is …spring.