Living through Winter
(I wrote this on Tuesday before I learned of the mass shooting in Uvalde; I could not imagine how much colder and wintry our world was about to become. We need to pray for the victims and the community. However, It is past time to move from simply praying about, to acting against, gun violence in our communities).
May has been historically hot in Austin. I find myself thinking of winter. It is not that I am longing for cooler temperatures, though I am ( and we still have June, July, August and September to endure!). I am actually thinking of how we are currently living in a metaphorical winter- think Shakespeare and Richard III’s “winter of our discontent” or think of The House Stark motto in Game of Thrones, “Winter is Coming.” Metaphorically speaking, winter is a time of challenge when struggle, suffering and death seem to rule the day. Signs of hope and new life seem scarce. Such are the days in which we are currently living. There is an unjust war in the Ukraine, widespread drought and hunger in the Sudan, acts of senseless gun violence in our cities and white supremacy seems ascendant and unchecked. People also are struggling to feed their babies, to pay for gas and to escape the reach of COVID. And now monkeypox?!! It is also no picnic for the Christian faith. Churches struggle to survive in the pandemic and many Christians soil the name Christian with their too easy and convenient mix of faith and American triumphalism. Winter indeed!
However, I recently saw an interview with the former Archbishop of Canterbury and theologian par Excellence, Rowan Williams. He has written a recent book titled Looking East In Winter. The title is taken from the advice of Eastern monks many centuries ago. They counseled that in winter while one feels the chill on their backs, one needs to look east toward the warmth of the sun.
What a powerful metaphor I find this to be. In these times of winter I can look toward the Son, Jesus, through prayer, study and fellowship and feel his warmth. To me it could also mean that I look towards the day when the lion and lamb lie down together, there is no more war, there are no more tears and everyone of every race, political persuasion, sexual identity and nation come together as one and are equally valued.
In these wintry days, I anticipate the coming Kingdom of God and I go forward in faith.