Last week, I woke in the darkness to what must be one of the greatest sounds on earth at times, just outside my louvered window: the whisper, then the thunder, of rain. A welcome chill had settled on my covers, and I snuggled next to my slumbering husband, falling back into that wonderful envelope of sleep.
As Uganda tumbles into March, I think back to the sequence of spring in the southern U.S., alternating yellow and violet (can I remember the order now?): daffodils, then redbud; forsythia, then wisteria. The landscape would wonder me with its subtle awakening from gray to green. My house, the air, my body—all of it seemed to inhale deeply, shaking off the heavy cloak of winter and throwing its hat in the air in celebration and sunny, happy release.
Here in Kampala, we’re experiencing a bit of the opposite: January and February are our hottest months. They are bearable, for sure, especially in comparison to the twenty-degrees-less temperature from Arkansas’ sultry summers. Still—when the rainy season hits in March, I’m so thankful that my hair is no longer adhering to my neck, that sleeveless shirts no longer seem like the only viable option for survival. Kampala is fairly balmy and beautiful the rest of the year, so the small endurance for a couple of months isn’t steep price to pay.
Still, despite the delights of a new season, I am painfully aware that despite the balmy release of the rain here, some of my friends sharing a cup of coffee on my back porch are still in the midst of a winter—of the soul. Like this deprivation-laden season of Lent, the horizon feels bleak and mournful, marked by deprivation. They wrap a sweater of faith tighter around themselves, enduring what is. Winter is a time of faith—of death counting on a promise. Creation holds its crystalline breath, frozen, pale, and washed-out. Waiting.
I like the picture David paints in Psalm 1 of the righteous man:
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season…
This reminds me that there are fruitful “seasons” in our lives—but there must be less abundant times as well. Like a tree well-rooted by a river, our lives have both a winter and a spring; a time of bare protection, then lush beauty.
Lent, too, is a remembrance of God’s institution of times and seasons. The somber gray of the Lenten season is pregnant with promise: that for death, God has planned resurrection; for ashes, beauty; for deprivation, restoration; for mourning, gladness. For every winter, there is a spring.
Perhaps this post finds you in your own winter of the soul, a time of naked branches, huddled against the wind. May you be comforted that there is a time of new life for all the ways you feel you are dying—and that in God’s way of doing things, resurrection is, in His time, around the corner.