Saying "yes" to life
Where I live, winter is raw and bitter, windswept and white, an unpredictable and uncompromising time of the year. We go from dry, cold, grey days to deep, wet, frozen days. The pavement turns from white snow to black ice from one moment to another. The wind howls around the house, whipping wet leaves and soft snowflakes with it. One black night everything in sight is fogged in dark; the next morning the inner city is clear and clean and deep, deep white.Then we sit inside, make popcorn, light the fire, curl up in blankets, and play games.
Indeed winter, for us, is an experience in the struggles of life, in its twists and turns, in its great challenges and small triumphs. We watch where we walk now; we cling to handrails from place to place; we drive slowly, deliberately, cautiously from corner to corner. We go through life more thoughtfully, more quietly, more prudently—with an eye to what might happen as well as for what is happening. We manage it all quite well, of course, but not cavalierly. Every step in life demands attention then.
Finally, in the north, finally, one day, almost without warning, spring comes. You smell it. You taste it in the air. You watch pregnant trees explode with new bloom. Suddenly. And you know. You know that life has changed, that life is new again.
Around the neighborhood, the windows begin to open one at a time, tentatively at first, one here, then another one there. Then all at once, it seems, the street is open and bold with life.
Children appear in the middle of the road, bouncing balls, laughing loudly. The corner ice cream stand, weeks early, opens and calls the children out of their small old houses like the Pied Piper of play. And all of us older people feel our limbs loosen a bit and our hearts begin to smile.
It is an exercise in “yes,” this slip-slide from winter to spring. Yes to today; yes to tomorrow; yes to life again. We all come out of the tomb of winter, new and bright with promise. It is “yes” to lifetime now, however old, however jaded we may be. It is the rediscovery of possibility again.
The turn of the seasons in the north is a kaleidoscope of the seasons of life, of the face of God in time, of the very process of what it means to be alive.
In the seasons we see the story of ourselves played out early on—life without shape; later comes the pursuit of direction; finally, life is on the way to its horizon; and at the end, life mellows, going down into the sea of eternity. Through all of them, like warp and woof, lies the essential pattern, the obligation to say “yes.”
Yes, yes, yes, life teaches us to say. Yes, yes, yes, we must learn to say back. Otherwise, we will surely die long before we have ever learned to live.