It feels like just yesterday that it was late September and my roommate and I were praying for a mild winter. She’s from Louisiana and a total hippie (yet another one of the reasons why I love her so much) and I, well, I just like the feel of glowing sunshine on my face and hearing birds sing and feeling a warm evening breeze brush against my exposed arm. So when the local news station forecasted an inch of snow in October (before Halloween!!!), I braced myself for what could be a looong winter. I imagined myself learning how to dig my car out of snow in this new neighborhood I moved to back in July and envisioned checking my work’s website in hopeful anticipation of a snow day (it had to take nearly seven or eight inches of snow to get one-and only one- last winter).
As the last of the leaves dropped their leaves, and evening darkness pulled closer and closer, my roommate and I promised that we’d make the most of winter. In fact, some days I’d announce rather enthusiastically to my friends, “Yeah, but this year’s going to be different!!! I’m going to embrace winter and make the most out of it!” I’d say this through a smile and shivering teeth, secretly craving hot chocolate. My friends probably thought I was weird and that winter is inevitable and wondered why I was making such a big deal out of it.
Thanksgiving and Christmas went by surprisingly fast (although I’m beginning to feel as though everything is these days) and in came January. I smiled at the fireworks lighting up the Baltimore Harbor that New Year’s Eve and let my eyes linger to watch a firework “boom,” then dissipate its final ounce of color and energy, as it slowly disappeared into a cloud of smoke. I had some things of 2011 that I was ready to leave behind. As the final firework went off, I let out a small sigh and a deep breath, feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. This is going to be a great year, I felt deep in my core. I made a list of “12 Mantras for 2012” (aka 12 New Year’s goals) and taped them to my mirror.
It always helps me to have something to look forward to. This winter, I had the pleasure of looking forward to 10 warm, inspiring days in sunny Cambodia with Women Who Stand*. Sure enough, after attending my final workout class of my January one month cheap membership to the gym (thanks, Groupon!), it was time to head off. It felt strange packing knee length skirts and short sleeve shirts in late January, but boy was I glad to be doing so! The trip was amazing (you can read about it here) and I remember one of the ladies (pretty much all of them) checked in with home (sorry Mom and Dad, and Brian too- I wanted to be completely “unplugged” and wanted to avoid technology for 10 days). Her family member reported that daffodils were starting to come up. In February!! I thought, and chuckled as I thought back to my hopes of a mild winter.
February came, leaping into March (cheesy pun intended). Each day, while waiting for the shuttle to take me home work from, I’d observe the buds of the Magnolia tree where the bus stop is. I wanted to freak out when I started to see shoots around the third week of February, but realized most people don’t analyze trees like I do. So I simply smiled and said a mental, “Thank you, God!” It’s now March 9th and the Magnolia tree is in full bloom. I literally cannot believe it. We would usually have to wait until at least late March to see a few blooms; April to get the whole thing in bloom, scenting the air with intoxicating thoughts of flowers and daylight and being able to hang out on a swingset in my fair trade dress.
And so the other day, my roommate and I laughed about our prayer. Though she was secretly hoping for at least one snow day off from work (I don’t blame her), we were both shocked by how that little half-joking prayer turned out. Don’t worry, I’m not advocating that you simply just need to say a prayer about the weather and it will turn out however you want it. But anyway, as I flipped my calendar to March, I said to her, “We made it! I mean, we made it through winter!” (Both of seriously do get that “seasonal affectiveness disorder” thing during wintertime). It felt like an achievement.
I’m not sure if I learned every lesson I was supposed to learn during this winter (hey, there’s still 3 weeks in which God can throw me a curveball) but I certainly learned quite a few. I learned that I can still go on evening runs, even though it’s dark and cold (thank you Charm City Thursday running group!). I laugh as I think about the time when 82 cop cars strolled through my street and I went from literally trembling in fear to thanking the heavens above when I heard Santa Claus shout, “MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!” I remember going to a Christmas party at this nice lady across the street’s house and feeling so grateful for people who are patient and kind and give you their phone number as soon as you move into the block, and invite you over for Christmas parties. I developed a heart for empowering women globally while in Cambodia and who knows where that will take me; if for now just a song that tugs on my heart and I feel as though I’m just brushing the surface of the lyrics.
But I guess the biggest thing I learned is that you can’t anticipate everything, for better or worse. You think you’re going to be calling your boss telling her that your car is stuck in ice and, whoops!, I forgot to buy salt and it’s going to take me an hour to dig my car out because I was too lazy to set my alarm to wake up those extra 30 minutes earlier. You think the next three months are going to draaaaag. You think, you think, you think. But what actually happened? I ran in shorts on January 7th, smiled at crocuses shooting up from my friend’s front yard in late February and here I am in March smiling about blossomed Magnolia trees and daffodils.
Just when you think you know how a season, whether literal or spiritual will turn out, something else happens. Sometimes God truly does just have other plans and intentions for us. I don’t know what they are. I don’t know what they are for you; I don’t know what they are for me. But as our next season ushers in literally (and perhaps spiritually), it’s with a humble spirit of openness that I long to maintain. To be open to change. For God to dare me to see Him do something differently, and then shock me with something totally wild and unexpected. And so I don’t know what this winter was like for you. And maybe you’re reading this from Chicago or Boston or somewhere that saw tons of snow and you’re sick of it (sorry, I really do feel bad). But I do know this- with God, we can come to expect the unexpected and to learn, grow, and ultimately be satisfied in Him in the process.
Happy [almost] Spring,
Didn’t [really] Snow Winter.
*check out these amazing group of ladies: http://womenwhostandbaltimore.wordpress.com/
The one time it did snow this winter, I went on a hike with Brittany Kaiser and got us lost on one of the trails for an hour. It was really cold. And wet.