Where I live, we have four distinct seasons, and each one brings its own beauty and challenge. The summer can bring tornadoes and oppressive heat. Autumn can bring some chilling winds followed by some very hot days. Winter brings snow and cold. In spring we see flooding and the potholes from the winter freeze.
Yet the different seasons also allow us to soak in the glory of the sunshine. We get lilacs and signs of new life. Fall foliage is breath-taking. The quiet that comes with a beautiful snowfall is unlike any other quiet, as the snow sparkles while it drifts down to surround me like I’m in a snow globe.
The beginning of this week was pretty cold where I live in the upper Midwest. One day our high—the warmest it got—was seventeen degrees BELOW zero. The high. With the wind factored in, it felt like 44 below. (When I was a kid, we called this booger-freezing weather. Gross? Yes. But dead-on accurate.)
In the days before bad winter weather (six or more inches of snow or extreme cold), I do like everyone else does: I go to the grocery store to stock up on staples. So there I was Sunday afternoon, making sure I had milk, bread, eggs, and food for at least Monday and Tuesday dinners. Everyone else hit the store this weekend, too, because the shelves were a bit bare in a few places. (At least I went during a Packer playoff game, which meant that the store was relatively deserted.)
My husband checked the furnace to be sure all our intake vents were open and functioning. Although we’ve had the house closed up for heating season for a few months now, we went around and checked all the windows to be sure every was sealed up tight. We got blankets out of the closet to keep handy just in case of extra drafts or a furnace problem. My husband put a couple blankets in the car and made sure he had gloves with him as he left for work Monday morning. He texted me when he arrived at work safely.
We knew the polar vortex would be dipping toward us. A change in the jet stream pushed that cold arctic air south for a while, and weather forecasters read the signs to tell us it would affect us. We knew it would be really cold for a while—but we also knew that it was just for a few days, for a very short season, if you will. I’d survived cold snaps like this before, and I’ll probably see a few more again.
When I went outside only long enough to check the mail, I felt cold to my bones. I found myself wondering if I would ever be warm again. I KNEW I would be, but at that moment, all I felt was the bitter cold that froze the inside of my nose. I went inside, wrapped myself with a blanket, and made myself some hot chocolate. For a short while, I forgot about how very cold it was outside and remembered that in just a few months, I will be dealing with another season and that this polar vortex would be a memory. And the entire time we had the bitter cold, the sun was shining gloriously across the winter landscape. I stood at the kitchen window, and from the warmth of my house, admired the sunshine.
The Winds of Life
A polar vortex is always in the arctic. It varies in strength and speed, and sometimes it pushes the cold winds into new areas for a brief time.
Life is like that, too. There are always certain challenges we face. Sometimes things move harder and faster. Sometimes the storms of life push things our direction that happen only rarely. Although some of these storms hit us hard, with no warning, we often see signs of what is to come.
As I look back over the years of our marriage, I see times we’ve survived bitter storms of life. Sometimes we’ve known what’s coming, but we often haven’t. As we look back at those storms, we do remember the challenges—but we also retain some very special memories of those times. Those memories bring the beauty and richness to those storms, just as spectacular lightning or a sparkling snow enriches a storm or a snowfall.
Right now, we are heading into a season that will involve some difficult decisions and lifestyle changes. This isn’t the kind of thing where stocking up on bread and milk will help much, but there are other things we can do. While my husband was at work this week, I spent time on the phone and in person with people we need to rely on to assist us as we figure out how to weather this storm. I began to make a list of our basic needs so we can talk through priorities. In a way, I was weatherproofing.
Earlier today, my husband asked me to go sit with him on the couch. He said, “I just need to hold you and feel you next to me and know that for this moment, everything is right with my world.” So we snuggled on the couch, wrapped in blankets, together. We watched a movie that we saw for the first time when we were first dating while our son made us a nice big Saturday morning breakfast.
We don’t know how cold our storm will be, or how long it will last—but for a couple hours today, we were warm and with each other. We remembered that this is just a season in life. With time, we will be able to enjoy the memory of snuggling on the couch while our son cooked for us, content in the fact that we were together and in a marriage that is stronger than it’s ever been.
Each season in life has its challenges, yet each season offers a unique beauty as well.
A polar vortex can make life bitter cold for a few days—but when you’re wrapped up inside a strong marriage, it makes it a lot easier to see the sunlight and know that it is just a season. This shall pass, and you’ll have a new season to experience before much longer.
“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” Genesis 8:22