It is the middle of January and I wish it was colder than this. I wish it was brilliantly white and crisp and clear. I wish I could see my breath and that the snow crunched under my feet as I walked. I would prefer an idyllic winter scene.
But it’s well above zero here, these days. There’s a 100 km/hr chinook wind ferociously screaming daily in my face, relentlessly wearing down optimism and good will. All around there are shades of grey and brown. The barren trees bend and shake, wearied by the wind, plastic bags and garbage clinging to their lonely branches. The roads are choked with gravel and salt and the last dirty remnants of snow. The world seems grimy and plain.
There is probably an important metaphor at work here. This is how life goes. We have our idyllic scenes and we have our brown, barren days. And, of course, we have many days somewhere in between. We don’t get to choose the way the days go.
This is how faith goes, too. Some days are full of exuberant life while others seem like pages of a story that would have been better left unwritten. Some days are characterized by joyful, confident conviction and bright, clear hope, others by dark foreboding and restless uncertainty. And many of our days, again, fall somewhere in between.
I read these words from Christian Wiman’s My Bright Abyss over breakfast this morning:
What you must realize, what you must even come to praise, is the fact that there is no right way that is going to become apparent to you once and for all. The most blinding illumination that strikes and perhaps radically changes your life will be so attenuated and obscured by doubts and dailiness that you may one day come to suspect the truth of that moment at all. The calling that seemed so clear will be lost in echoes of questionings and indecision; the church that seemed to save you will fester with egos, complacencies, banalities; the deepest love of your life will work itself like a thorn in your heart until all you can think of is plucking it out. Wisdom is accepting the truth of this. Courage is persisting with life in spite of it. And faith is finding yourself, in the deepest part of your soul, in the very heart of who you are, moved to praise it.
These are good words. I want this wisdom, this courage, this faith, that praises, and persists. I want to inhabit the world in this way, whether things look bright and clear or gravelly grey.