The weather keeps dramatically shifting, from gales and squalls and torrential rain, then just as suddenly blows out and blue skies emerge...an hour later the clouds descend again.
It can be difficult to prepare for such extremes - what kind of coat do I need? Waterproof, windproof, warm or light? Which path should I take, and will it be muddy? Do I need thick socks or will my feet get too hot?
There have been times in life where it has felt like I have moved from one squall to the next. Not just for me, but for many. One lot of weather passes, and another sets in, before you can recover from the first, and prepare yourself for the next. You can find yourself in a completely different situation, needing a whole different set of tools and apparel.
Through times like this, we learn what our 'staples' are - in the sense of those things that are valuable and healthy and essential to keep us going whatever the weather, whatever the terrain.
For me these things include God and faith in him, hope, a sense of perspective. A gentle touch when others hurt. A firm touch when things need to change, or when I myself need a good self-talking to! Keeping my eyes on the light at the other side. All the more difficult when the light may not be visible...yet.
The sense I am not alone, that God is in the darkness with me. The sense that others, too, are dwelling in a similar darkness or storm, and that we can reach out to each other with understanding. The reminder that life is full of seasons.
I went through a very dark, isolated season which lasted at least 2 years, not that long ago. Now, I am aware of a quietness of heart and a renewing of strength. I have known the re-filling of hope. But what has remained with me is an understanding of that darkness and isolation. I may walk the path of hope, but there are so many who grapple with hopelessness.
I've been there. It's dark, and horrible. Your faith gets so thin you think it may break entirely. But you are not the only one. And you are not alone. Take the thread of your faith and entwine it with those of others. We can make it through.
By the grace of God, spring comes.