For reasons unbeknownst to me and millions of other befuddled citizens across this nation, winter’s cruelty continues to hang on like a junkyard dog on a steak bone. Last year at this time, we had already enjoyed balmy days of shoeless cavorting in the sunshine. It’s April now and I have yet to thaw out.

In strange days like these I am tempted to look deeper for something symbolic, some kind of meaning in this unusual situation. Perhaps even an opportunity. Because, oftentimes as it goes in the natural world, there is a parallel in the spiritual.

So, what is happening when winter stays longer than it should? During the cold wintry months, the world remains in a frozen, hibernating state. During this time, there is isolation, meditation and rest. We are often less social, less active, and more introspective. You might even say that we are in a state of renewal.

If indeed winter is not ready to release us from its frigid womb, might it signal there is still work to be done, more transformation to occur, before we are ready to break forth into our spring activities? Could this be an opportunity to “cook a little longer” in our silent restorative place? Might we look inside ourselves just a bit longer to finish the work of preparing for personal breakthroughs? Does something more need to die off before we can step out into a hostile environment carrying a bit more kindness and civility than we went into November with?

Thomas Wentworth Higginson wrote, “How many lessons of faith and beauty we should lose, if there were no winter in our year!”

Indeed, let’s look upon this winter’s pit-bull tenacity with a grateful eye. For as the winter season brings lessons learned, so perhaps a lengthier spell in the confines of its cold clutches suggests the possibility there is yet more work to be done before it lets us go. Let’s take advantage of that opportunity, and when the warm spring rains begin to fall, we’ll be ready to step out confidently, knowing we have done all we can to be our best selves for the world.

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