When it is Autumn, all my love for family and friends, close or far, kindles with the color of the leaves. It deepens, and then bursts into red, orange, and purple flame. The people who are in front of me, I hug more. Those far away, I write more or call. Then I get so homesick, even for those nearby. In contrast, the next moment, I feel amazed at the existence of such beautiful people that could possibly care one wit about me; and then I get to love them back and get to know them–it’s incredible and mushy. There are so many emotions in Autumn. Life just pours out of everything until everything suddenly has no more life to give.
After a month or two passes, my proverbial beautiful leaves curl up, dry, and catch embers to burn. It’s like the song “Time is All Around” by Regina Spektor. “Leaves become more beautiful when they’re about to die,” she warns. She was loving beautifully, in the most beautiful way, and then the love died. She grows tired of putting forth effort “I’m so tired/ Why am I suppose to love if I don’t want to?” she says, “I don’t want to/I don’t want to/ I don’t want/I don’t want.” Winter here is just like that.
It sets in quickly, and it promises to be numb–cold, a chronic gray, and numb. Not sad, not happy, not melancholy, just nothing. A bad case of the “I don’t want” anything mood becomes chronic. Every year I’ve added a new weapon to my artillery against Moscow’s winter. Last year I whipped out exercise and now enjoy an activity that I always loathed before, running. This year I added extra vitamin D and a small, bright blue lamp called “happy”: this lamb blinds me for 15 minutes a day and supposedly will stuff some emotion back into my heart. We’ll see . . .
But what will really get me, and other Moscovites, through the looming winter? What will combat the apathy, the whining, the blues? I don’t mean to be cliche, but I have to be honest, it is just a little bit of hope. And yes, it’s vitamin D, and happy lamps, and exercise, and extra hugs and smiles and buying that bouquet of flowers or coloring with as many colors as possible: it’s all those little things AND it’s the one big thing:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience–among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature, children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved–and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And it is not by your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast, for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2: 1-10
The leaves will fill with bright color again: it’s simply the truth. They’ll be green and alive and then, they’ll be willing to, in a beautiful fit, die to themselves because they trust that they will be resurrected to an even brighter and broader green then was known before.
Okay, winter, here’s the deal: In faith I’m working on saying “yes” to the dying thing, by His grace, I believe the dying will be beautiful, and finally, by His great love, not by my own doing, I will choose to hope that I will be raised again from winter and everything else. I hope you can claim that, too!