“She turned to the sunlight and shook her yellow head, and whispered to her neighbor: ‘Winter is dead’.” – A.A. Milne from When we were very young.
Spring is in the air – both literally and figuratively. April showers have no doubt brought May flowers, and the whole world is exploding in the cyclical rebirth of nature’s beauty following its dormant retreat in winter. I love this time of year because it provides the release from “cabin fever” that always results from months stuck inside escaping the cold, dead grasp of winter. But it also reminds us of the cycle of life, and that even in the darkest hours, there is a promise of light and life on the other side of tomorrow. Life has built its entire existence around this seasonal nature of our existence on this beautiful planet we call Earth.
These last few years have reminded us of the seasonal nature of so many other elements of our lives. Not in a literal sense, as annual seasons tend to bring. But in a figurative sense. That there is a cyclical rhythm to our own existence. It reminds us that we don’t live in a world where “spring” is always in the air. Instead, we go through periods when darkness surrounds us. When the world is cold, damp, and harsh, and the prospects for the future look grim. But alas, spring always follows the winter.
2020 seems like that dark, harsh winter we’ve all been hoping would never come. The pandemic brought literal and figurative death to so many of us. For many, it has left lasting heartache for friends and loved ones lost along the way. For most, it left us forever changed in some way, whether it be socially, psychologically, and/or economically. I’ve promised myself at least a dozen times to stop talking about the hardships we all faced throughout 2020. But by not recognizing those hardships, we disrespect the struggle we endured to get through them. And, we lose the relative perspective to recognize when things get better.
Today seems like a million years from this time in 2020. Literally, one year ago today we were in a nationwide “quarantine”, businesses were closing left and right, and COVID cases were increasing almost exponentially. I can only hope that history properly writes the story to convey the physical and emotional toll the past year has exacted on us all.
And as if by some divine intervention, we find ourselves in a very different world today. No, we are not past these struggles, but we are certainly seeing the signs of prosperity that often follow a dark winter. Businesses are re-opening. Mask mandates are abating. Job recovery is on a feverish pace, and there are encouraging signs everywhere. More importantly, we are able to “leave our houses” and rejoin family and friends to reinforce those emotional connections that only physical proximity can provide.
So today’s message is not a lesson in leadership. No, it’s a lesson of life. Of cycles. And of the nature our existence. Its enduring the hardships that allow us to enjoy life’s return.
And knowing that for now, today, winter is dead.