It’s the January thaw. Temps are up, the snow is mostly gone, and the sun is shining. I can see my lawn for the first time in weeks and all the snow and ice are gone from the driveway. If you didn’t plant your bulbs in the fall, you might be able to do so if the temperatures stay above freezing for a few more days.
The January thaw is an interesting metaphor for our lives as people of faith—or just as people. We have “winters” in our lives—times of dormancy or even death. And sometimes in the midst of this dormancy, we can have a period of greenness and hope, a bit of relief from the difficulties of life. We know that those difficulties are not yet over and that the weight of them will descend again, but for today, we can see the possibility of spring and new life and brighter times.
I remember the first Christmas after my mother died in 1989. She had been gone for six months by the time Christmas rolled around. My dad wanted to try to keep everything the same for us kids (even though we were all adults) and insisted on hosting the family at his house at Christmas. Everything looked the same but we all knew someone was missing. We had all been in a time of winter since Mom’s death. Grief was still in our hearts.
Yet I remember that in spite of the grief and emptiness, we still managed to laugh and eat and enjoy each other’s company. It was a different sort of holiday than in the past, but for small bits of time, we forgot that we were in an emotional winter. We found joy and a new memories and hope. Mom was still gone and there would still be times of deep grief and loss for all of us. But for those couple of days, we had a “January thaw.” It was temporary, of course, but it helped us.
God is good at giving us January thaws—both in nature and in our lives. If we are willing and keep our eyes and hearts open, God can provide a time of relief, renewal and rebirth even in the midst of winter. Yet even if that January thaw does not come for us, we all know that spring will come and that knowledge can sustain us through any loss or calamity.