Thawing out after a biting winter

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The first daffodil is flowering in our pot outside; the promise of warmer days to come during these last, serious weeks of winter. I’d forgotten that spring was coming.

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

I’d forgotten what spring felt like, when the world seems to wake up and sing. People used to more extreme climates say that Sydneysiders enjoy relatively mild delineation between the seasons. But our winter does bite.

I’ve been feeling just like that, hard-wintry.

Not in any dramatic way, but there have been enough cold and dreary days to feel thoroughly immersed in a not-growing season. We’ve been taking the children to Mass each Sunday, and praying our little family prayers together. I take no pleasure in any of it. Peter prays the rosary or reads the Divine Office during his commute to work. Some days he texts to let me know what feast day it is. I don’t reply. I don’t want to tell him I’m not interested, or pretend interest.

I know I haven’t lost my faith. I’ve been baptised in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, been confirmed in the Catholic faith, taken on a sacred vocation within it. My bond with God isn’t something that can be lost like a set of keys dropped down a drain and swept away in a rainstorm. It’s just winter or, as the Jesuits would have it, a season of desolation. The priest reminds us that the work God wants us to do – believe in Christ – is less an act of the intellect than an ongoing work of commitment.

I’m committed by baptism, confirmation, and marriage, and accepting the job of raising children in the faith. I know that love is a choice to be constantly re-made, not a feeling. I know it’s as beautiful as a single daffodil trumpeting spring in the depth of winter to keep loving and working for God despite feeling emotionally and intellectually dry about it.

So I keep teaching the children about God and with Peter model prayer and worship for them in the hope that we will all one day enjoy God in heaven face-to-face. I remind myself that a faith that doesn’t change isn’t real, living faith – and after desolation comes consolation.

I start baking again, play with the kids in the park, use a nice tablecloth at dinner. I take photos of cute things that happen at home, which helps me to be grateful. I use more evenings after the children’s bedtime to hang out with Peter in the living room instead of catching up on reading and emails. I see a doctor about a few things, and a priest about confession.

Emptying the kids’ lunchboxes after school I take the half-emptied water bottles outside and start watering all the garden pots, not just the one with the cheerful daffodil. Spring is not here yet, but it is coming and seeds dropped from last summer’s plants will sprout and grow if I at least soften up the ground a little.