Groundhog Day — Will it be the Winter of Despair, or the Spring of Hope?

Saturday it was 60 degrees. Tomorrow’s snowfall will exceed 6 inches.

I think of Charles Dickens.  “Will it be the winter of despair or the spring of hope?” asked Charles Dickens.

In a thousand different ways in a thousand different times I’ve asked that very question in my heart of hearts. I’m not alone. I’ve had jobs that seemed to be without any hope. I lived through relationships that looked sunk into winter. I’ve listened to the tape in my own mind, reminding me of my shortcomings.

The question is answered in playful traditions, like Punxsutawney Phil, the erstwhile groundhog in Punxsatawney, PA, who saw his shadow this morning.

For years, I lived in a Wyoming climate that guaranteed five months of snow on the ground.  There was nothing like the day when the sun broke through, mud was everywhere, and although the temperature was no more than 40 degrees, college kids were in the parks throwing Frisbees with their shirts off.

The best of times, the worst of times

These days we stand on the precipice of seasonal change. For some, winter was harsh with its cold and snow, wet and wind. It seems like it never ends. For others, everything is coming up bright.

Dickens continued to write of in a Tale of Two Cities.

It was the best of times, the worst of times.
It was the age of wisdom; it was the age of foolishness.

It was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of light

It was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness

We all live in that contrast. If not personally, we certainly experience it inter-relationally.

When things are going well for me, I’m often cautious about expressing my joy. Someone may be in the throes of despair and I don’t want to be only one living a party. Conversely, when darkness descends on me, I’m reticent to talk about for fear I’ll extinguish their hope.

Most of the time, I can endure my own despair, but I can’t really handle someone else’s hope.

We walk in a world of contrast, light and dark, good and bad, beautiful and ugly. The great philosopher Arlo Guthrie once said, “If you don’t ever know the darkness, man, you’ll never really appreciate the light.”

That’s why the first bulbs of spring give such delight. We have seen the short, cold days of a long winter and we just don’t like it. The buds of promise push through to our hearts and warm us up to tomorrow.

Come Spring!

 

https://www.flickr.com/people/nelgdev/
Photo by Nelgdev via Flickr CCLI.
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