As a kid, my favorite season of the year was (of course) Summer.Carefree days and nights seemed as if they would go on forever. As an adult, I still like Summer, but my favorite season is Autumn. I like the “look,” I like the smells, I like the feelings, I like the activities. Although it’s my favorite season of the year, Autumn has also been saturated with a certain sadness for me: having to say goodbye to the activities of Summer, having to say goodbye to the fullness of nature, having to say goodbye to family and friends to begin another school year at college or seminary.
I’m sure my use of the phrase, “having to say goodbye,” has been influenced by some of my reading over the years, especially by Joyce Rupp’s Praying Our Goodbyes (1988). In that book, Rupp makes it clear that in order to say hello to “the new,” we first must say goodbye to “the old;” this idea makes sense to me. I’ve used the idea in homilies (especially funeral homilies), in my speaking and writing (like now), and in my personal reflections about Jesus Christ. When he said goodbye to this world (and this world said good-bye to him), it was as painful and ugly and tragic as a goodbye could be. Without it, however, there would be no hello to resurrection — new life for Jesus, new life for us all.
So, what does this have to do with Winter? Just as we had to say goodbye to Summer in order to say hello to Autumn, we have had to say goodbye to Autumn in order to say hello to Winter. I know, I know: it’s not a hello that everybody likes. Over the years, I’ve heard lots of people say something like, “Snow for Christmas is great, but after that, I don’t want it!” The month of January in this new year of 2012 has been fairly mild, but as we all know, much of winter lay ahead of us. The Farmer’s Almanac, I’ve been told, predicts rough weather ahead for this part of the country. Maybe, maybe not.
All we know for sure is that Spring is ahead. In the meantime, we must wait. Don’t let your waiting be “empty;” in other words,” “use” the waiting that comes with Winter. May it fill you with hope, with anticipation, with excitement. One day soon, we will also say goodbye to Winter.New life lay ahead for Nature, and new life lay ahead for all of us believe that the cycle of the seasons reflects our life in Jesus Christ.