At least three times in the past three days, someone I care about has stared straight into my eyes and said something like: I can’t take much more of winter.
They haven’t said the words like people griping about getting caught in an afternoon rainshower. Instead, they’ve spoken with a kind of emptiness and exhaustion that I feel even now as an ache beneath my sternum. Because I’ll tell you: I understand.
Winter is usually an exceptionally hard season for me. The darkness thickens into a palpable presence, and all I want to do is sleep. But this winter, for some reason, I haven’t felt even a touch of that old sadness. I call it grace, and ask no questions.
Still: I remember how alone I felt this time last year. And if you, too, are feeling overwhelmed by the gray, I thought I’d share with you a little something that made me smile, back then.
I dug around in my archives and found this post just for anyone who needs an extra touch of sunshine and warmth today… Enjoy:
January 25, 2015
I find a new park today — a small one, hugging close to a silver ribbon of a stream, one that flows cold and deep over stones.
There’s an iron bridge here that leaps in a clean arc over the water.
There’s trees and rocks. A bench or two.
And on this rainwet afternoon, sky-bright puddles freckle the earth with blue.
Can you believe it? This place is just five minutes from home. It’s been here all along…
I have with me a series of tiny chalkboards attached to small wooden stakes. There’s a message already chalked onto them, one I’ve had in mind all day:
only to remind us
that all things
It isn’t a new idea, this one. I remember, from the days when I first read Walden, Thoreau’s remark that Spring might well make a Christian out of any man, and I suppose that’s true. It’s an easy time to believe in redemption, when all things, everywhere, are bursting out new.
And yet I have to tell you: I am learning, slowly, to believe in Spring now — now, here, in the coldest month.
Which is a crazy sort of faith if there ever was one — crazy, but not blind.
I thrust the chalkboards into the wet ground — one every twenty feet or so, following the meandering of the brook.
After that, my small work done, I make my way down to the stream’s edge.
I pick my way over the rocks, close to the falls, and snap shot after shot of water rushing black-to-white. Leap back to the shoreline and bend low, my camera close to the surface-shimmer, trying to catch its reflection as it laps against stones.
I take pictures of everything and almost nothing: eddies. Pebbles. Weeds spiking the bank. And the whole time I keep thinking: beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful…
I don’t know when it happened, exactly, but sometime in the last few weeks I began to see beauty again.
For the longest time I thought winter was just nothing but a slow wet stretch of ice and ugliness, constant black-and-white drear.
Lately, though, my eyes have become attuned to the monochrome of this season, and – just as it was when I first began shooting in black-and-white – I’m finding myself seeing, as if for the first time, quieter forms of beauty that were here all along.
I see frost luminous on tufts of grass.
I see new growth shining flame-red on the tips of twigs.
I see sky-colors caught in puddles.
Did you catch what I said? This beauty that I’m talking about … This beauty was here all along.
I stand up in the middle of the stream, realizing suddenly that my fingers are too frozen to take any more pictures.
Which is all right — really — I have enough.
I scroll through what I’ve taken, thinking: Enough. Enough.
And it is enough. More beauty than I need to fill my heart for one more day, at least. I walk back to my car. Drive away, thinking again of my message:
What if spring comes
only to remind us
that all things
And for the first time I realize that this thing beginning again — right here in the cold and the dark — is me. ❤
This post is part of the Secret Messages Project. Every day for thirty days, I left my words in places where they might be found — or might never be found at all. If you like what you see, read more!