by Rick Hamlin | In the middle of all the snow and slush and mud, there are signs of hope. Here’s how to see them.
January. I don’t know what it is–the short days and long nights, the drooping temperatures, the joys of Christmas receding in the rear-view mirror while the promise of spring feels far off–but the gloom sets in.
You know how it is. You try to savor the beauty of the winter snowfall, but suddenly your mind wraps around all the work that comes with it: digging the car out, shoveling the side-walk, washing all that muck and salt that collects on your boots. And do you have another pair of thick wool socks?
Need some help dispersing any January gloom? Try this:
1) Take a picture
Sometimes I don’t see the beauty of winter until I get out my iPhone (okay, I don’t mean to sound hopelessly 2017). The other day on my morning run I was noticing the ice on the river. I paused from my usual huffing and puffing around the park and snapped a shot.
It was only later, when I posted that picture to Instagram that I could see it: the bands of white and gray across the water and then mirroring in the cliffs, with a hint of pink where the rising sun was hitting it. It was beautiful.
2) Sing a song
You knew I’d say this. You don’t have to sing it out loud. Sing it to yourself. Can’t sing? Sure you can. My dad had a tin ear but he always sung lustily from the front pew (where he wouldn’t bother too many folks). I used to joke with him and tell him that he had about three notes–and sometimes they were the right ones.
The psalm says “Make a joyful noise to the Lord.” Nothing there about it having to be pretty.
3) Look up
Now that I got you thinking about your cell phone…look up from it. Look around you. Turn it off for a moment. The other day on my morning commute on a crowded subway train, I looked up from my phone and noticed that the man standing in front of me had a cane.
“Would you like to sit down?” I said. “That would be nice.” I got up, cursing myself for my self-involvement. At least I had finally noticed. I had looked up.
4) Know the temperatures WILL change
One winter our car was buried in snow, almost three feet of it. We spent days shoveling the snow and clearing it all off. It took almost a week. But guess what? Just as we finished, a warm spell hit and the rain came. The dirty snow all melted in a matter of days.
Trust God, trust nature. Things will change. That’s the way of the creation.
5) See the signs
The crocuses do come, the days slowly get longer, hope isn’t lost. I was walking by our neighbor’s place and noticed the sign “Hope” in the planter in front. A remnant from their Christmas decorations. It was still there. Bravely reminding me: “Hope is right here.”