What happens if there is no winter
by Rev. Michael Griffin - 4/2/2012
THIS CATHOLIC’S LIFE - Rev. Michael L. Griffin
So, what happens if you have a season and it decides not to show up?
It began on Halloween, which is for me, the time when I begin to get my head in the game. From November on, I start to expect winter, perhaps even look forward to it, and my traveling schedule automatically becomes more flexible.
But we moved from Halloween to Thanksgiving and it looked like autumn was going to last a while. That was fine, that has happened before. There was always December just around the corner.
Winter is kind of important at that time of year, it sets the mood of the season and, to be honest, it is tough to get Christmas shopping done if the weather doesn’t cooperate.
And it did not.
While there was (as usual) disagreement among people as to the desirability of a white Christmas, I was definitely in the “white” camp, as I am each year. I know it is mostly a sentimental thing, and it makes traveling miserable and people don’t like the cold, but still, it’s Christmas.
There is a desire for some soft snowfall and the thought of children playing in the snow and everyone enjoying hot chocolate. There is a desire on my part to greet parishioners on Christmas morning in a newly plowed parking lot and soft flakes falling. Call me old fashioned, but I long for Currier and Ives on Christmas morning.
Alas, Christmas arrived, brown and warm this year; so did New Years. But of course people kept saying, “Well, we are heading into the coldest time of the year.” I could not argue with that, but the weather seemed to have other things in mind.
My birthday came and I only had to wear a jacket that day. In fact, I have forgotten where my parka is hanging. I am sure it is somewhere around here, but I have not needed it for so long that it could be anywhere at this point.
My favorite part was Groundhog’s Day when Phil poked his head out and saw his shadow and scampered back down for some more sleep. I was chatting with someone that day and mentioned that we were supposed to have six more weeks of winter and they responded, “Wonderful.”
I have never, ever heard that in South Dakota before.
But of course people kept saying, “Well, we are heading in to the snowiest time of the year.”
Not too long after Valentine’s Day, there was “The Storm.” It was predicted and professed and the weather prophets on TV were giddy (mostly because I think they have been bored these last few months) and declared that winter was finally, finally coming.
Well, we had a storm, and I think most places may have been hit a bit harder than Pierre, but we had a fairly typical snow fall, with some wind. As we listened to the broadcasts throughout the day, the threat level, as well as the predicted inches, went lower and lower.
My poor associate, Fr. Kristopher was so disappointed. His sledding dreams were dashed. The students at our school were equally disappointed when they woke up that morning to discover that school would not be cancelled after all.
I guess they do not cancel school for five inches.
However, Fr. Kristopher and the disappointed kids found out there was enough snow to make a pretty good snowman in the playground. I must admit, as nice as the snowman was, he must have been on a very strict diet, because he lost a lot of weight very fast. In the warm sun that followed our sad storm, you could literally see the weight melting off of him.
So, a few days ago we put on the green and made our way to the parade in shorts and t-shirts to honor St. Patrick. One of the great significances of this day is its closeness to spring. It is a day when we traditionally wear green to remind us that winter is drawing to a close. It is a sign of hope for us that nice weather is just around the corner.
This year, after the parade, we went home and turned on the air conditioner in the church before Confessions.
Now it is almost Easter and I am getting nervous. Easter is spring, it is new life, it is the death of death and the death of winter. Easter is supposed to be celebrated with wild color and light in our churches and homes, but also in the world outside. We, in the Midwest, have always understood Easter because we have had winter. We know what it means to come out of the horror of long, cold nights.
We live in a part of the world where even nature proclaims the resurrection.
But, apparently not this year. Granted, nature may throw us a curve ball and one more blast of snow, but by now, we know it will simply be an aberration.
But that does not detract from the fact that we are moving out of an inner winter. The long, cold darkness within, the frozen and bitter wind of sin and death is losing its grip in the glory of Christ’s death and resurrection.
When Easter comes, it may feel like summertime outside, but there is a still a winter destroying joy that is ours to behold.
It is still the springtime of the year, and the springtime of our lives.