The sunset purpled the sky as an unusually warm breeze whipped around my jacket, and I breathed deeply this February blessing. I can be a hibernator, and by February, I am often simultaneously lonely and yet desirous of solitude. The snowy cold is an acceptable excuse to temporarily disappear. For me, historically, January and February have been rough months. Somehow when the calendar flips to the new year, all the sad stuff lets loose. Sickness, bad news, even death seem to congregate in the dreariness of these dark months.
This year is really no different. Some tragic events have left me feeling quiet. Sometimes there is no voice to give to the pain that peoples our world. I have withdrawn. Facebook, where I usually watch my faraway friends’ pictures pop up, became a breeding ground for argument and intolerance, so I avoided that technological outlet. Blogging felt too difficult; I questioned what words the world might benefit from, but came up empty again and again. Then sickness took us out for a week. Feverish kids watched Netflix while I read and disinfected.
But last week, God sent the sun. The days became springlike, and I felt hope humming under my feet.I chatted with neighbors. I jogged my favorite route past my horse friends. I felt it in my soul: a reprieve. I reveled in days of warmth during what is often a frigid season. The pain, worry, and sadness isn’t gone, but its frosty hold is melting.
And this is how we survive the pain of a broken world- days of hope that arrive just in time. Moments of happiness that warm the cold and lonely corners of our minds. God knows just when to send us a reprieve. It reminds me of an exercise I used to do in lifeguard training. Swim a brick to the bottom of the deep end, come back up for air, then return down to the depths to retrieve it. That brief moment at the surface determined my success or failure. I needed just the right amount of air to accomplish the task. And so it is in life; I need just the right amount of peace to survive the sometimes overwhelming experiences of life. I go back to that well-remembered Psalm, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul: he leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23)
So let it snow, or rain, or hail (this is Michigan, after all), I will rest assured that a reprieve is always on the horizon.