Winter Remains While Spring Arrives
by PASTOR JEFF WILLIAMS
Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist Church
With the ice still glistening on the evergreens, prairie grass, bare branches and power lines, spring has not exactly burst upon the scene. There is no clean break it seems between the seasons. Spring breaks are alluring where we can make the change, usually to warmer weather, within a day. But the return home reminds us of the slower changes that are underway within us. In our human time and relationships we don’t just turn our backs on the past and only move ahead.
Expecting something new (job, home, relationship) can come with some pretty intense pressure. “Out with the old and in with the new” sets us up for disappointment if we expect a sudden revolution and get instead a slower reformation. Author and educator, Parker Palmer, has observed that we act our way into new ways of believing. That’s why I like the spiritual practices of the church like worship, baptism, open communion, prayer, funerals, fasting, service, reflection and Sabbath. They are reliable practices—in my United Methodist tradition we call them “means of grace”—that shape our expectations and relieve our spirit-mind-body existence of unhealthy anxiety.
I like the wise affirmation Renita Weems, author and pastor, makes in her book, Listening for God: “I learned to trust the winter months of faith, when it’s difficult to remember why one ever bothered to believe. I stopped being so hard on myself and demanding that, as a wife, scholar, and writer, I should always feel excited about what I was doing, or that I should, as a mother and a minister, always sparkle with alertness and insight. This was hard to accept in a culture where, at the first sign of dullness or tedium or monotony, it’s all right to give up, walk away, or try something new in hopes of finding new meaning, new thrills, new satisfaction.”
May God bless and transform all your seasons and changes with grace.