I despise winter. I don’t like the cold. The extended hours when darkness reigns. The iciness and harshness. Struggling to survive. To hang on and make it through. It’s a time of pulling inside of yourself. Inside your heart. Inside your house. Close the doors, pile on the blankets, pull down the curtains, pretend there is sunshine and warmth. Winter is out to kill you, one way or another. Everything is harder. Simple tasks take so much more effort. Getting from here to there is often dangerous. You have to hunker down. Wait it out. Try to survive.
The winter season of life is like this too. Getting around is suddenly more difficult. Joints protest when you arise each morning. Balance requires additional concentration. Vision fades and glasses are no longer a fashion statement. You heart is harder, frozen solid, due to years of being beaten down and hammered by blows and endless challenges. Movements are slower. It is ever more evident that time is running out. And knowing time is short creates a panic. A gripping fear. A recounting of how you have spent your life thus far. And the regrets pile up like massive snow drifts.
It’s hard to remember summer, when you could go outdoors without bundling up. When the sun was warm and inviting. When hopping in the car and driving across town didn’t involve deep prayer and white knuckles. Likewise, in the winter season of life, it’s hard to remember what happened to the wondrous, shining days of your youth. How did you get from here to there? How did the time slip so swiftly through your fingers? Why can’t you recall each moment; each experience? Where did the warmth and anticipation go? When did this frigid landscape become a daily occurrence? When did life become so bleak?
The problem with summer is, it’s easy to forget it is finite. The days of warmth and ease seem endless. Who can believe it will one day be hard to walk to the mailbox? To push a grocery cart out to the car…across a bumpy, snowy, frozen parking lot? What nonsense! It’s warm and wonderful. The cart rolls uninhibited. You expect me to believe there will come a day when the wheels will become bogged down in icy slush and slick, packed snow? You expect me to believe there will be a day when my wrists will be easily strained, my knees will creek for no reason, my balance won’t be that steady and pushing this rolling cart will be a chore?
But winter comes. If it is the “season” of winter, we know it will also pass, slowly fading into spring, robin’s singing, buds on trees, warm breezes and tiny flower blossoms soon to burst into triumphant colorful reminders that the cold is no more…for a time. Defeated…for the moment. Not so, the winter of our lives. When that winter comes, the dark and cold remain until the end. No more joyous sunshine. No more running and jumping, unimpeded, unfettered, uninhibited.
With life’s winter, there is no new beginning just around the corner. Life’s winter is the last season we will experience. Gone forever is the promise of the tender shoots of spring. The glory of summer is now in the past. As is the finery of fall. All that is left is decay. Dying. Death. Hope is gone. Only a bleak certainty of a difficult reality remains ahead. A frightening reality. There is no longer much to look forward to. You survive. And then, you are gone.
Winter is whispering in my ear, “You are mine now.” It is coming. I feel its icy fingers. I feel its frigid breath. And I am terrified.