March 6, 2009

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Keeping the faith during the gray, dreary days of winter

Patti LambThis is the time of year when we sometimes have strings of gray days.

By “gray days,” I mean these Midwestern days between winter and spring when it is overcast and chilly, usually with blustery winds that make it downright frigid. The sun seems to be stuck behind the clouds. The trees are bare, and the landscape is drab.

I should preface this commentary with the statement that I am grateful for each day. I have learned that every day is a gift. The dreary days of winter, however, are not among my favorites.

Maybe it is because this is the time of year when my family is battling the cold and flu season, and the germs seem to be winning. The scent of Lysol lingers in the air, and even my 1-year-old has “cabin fever.”

God, and nature, of course, always remain in motion. I know that. But there are times when life seems to be at a standstill and everything feels sluggish. The gray days begin running into one another.

Then, much to my delight, along comes a warm day teeming with sunshine. We can’t get outside fast enough. My son rides his bike on the driveway while I pull my daughter in the wagon. Toys unseen since late last summer slowly surface from the garage, and each one is rediscovered with utter delight. Old toys look new again when viewed with fresh eyes.

The sidewalk chalk makes its way out, and the concrete becomes our canvas. In giant pastel letters, I write “C’MON SPRING,” as if hinting to God might speed along the process.

Under the sunshine, the kids sit in the grass and roll a ball to each other. Does this mean that eventually, one day, they will actually learn to share?

What a glorious day.

The next thing I know, however, the gray days roll in again.

But I think that maybe God is speaking to us in these gray days, offering a message if we will only listen. I think his message is one of perspective, patience and hope. He gently reminds us that new life is just around the corner and everything will green up again. Won’t that be sweet?

I considered how much I take for granted: Sunshine, fresh air, good health, family and so much more. It took those gray days for me to wise up and become more thankful.

If we didn’t have gray days, would we ever fully appreciate the brightest days? If we didn’t have bouts with poor health, loneliness, depression and frustration, would we ever thoroughly savor the days of good health, companionship, happiness and contentment?

Then my thoughts turned to those around me who are probably having even grayer days than I: those who are sick, mourning, lonely or struggling to find motivation. I imagine that God wants us to encourage each other toward the light, and the fact that brighter days do, indeed, lie ahead.

We must remind each other to actively believe in the midst of gray days when comfort feels far away. In other words, we must “keep the faith.”

Faith is being sure of “what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” as we read in the Book of Hebrews (Heb 11:1).

Gray days can be blessings in disguise. They give us that little bit of perspective we didn’t even know we were missing.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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