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The blank canvas of winter

Photo by Ash Edmonds on Unsplash

I love waking up early on a quiet winter morning to a fresh snowfall. I am perennially amazed when overnight everything is instantly transformed under a dusting of sparkling white. The trees sigh and relax under a weighted blanket of snow and ice. The whole world outside your window softens. Even the sky turns pale. Everything seems to melt together, forming a tranquil blank canvas. It is as though an invisible hand has artfully prepared for us a clean slate of frost and snow, one inviting intrepid footsteps and unabashed possibilities.

On the morning of the first snowfall at my new apartment, I had a peculiar moment of clarity. As I stepped outside my building and gingerly trekked through the freshly fallen snow to get to my car, I was oddly aware of the sight of my own tracks. I found myself inwardly processing the strange yet simple realization that my feet didn’t used to belong in this space. Today they did.

This has been an unusual winter for me. I am in the process of ending my marriage. In December, I moved out and started over on my own in a new town. On that first snowy morning at my new apartment, I was struck by the fact that there were now physical tracks through the snow announcing to the world my latest place of residence: Ready or not, Katy is here.

The snowy scene that morning is such a pointed metaphor encapsulating this next phase in my life. Winter is already a naturally transitional season, a period in which we all instinctively live into our anticipation for what comes next. The shorter days, the longer nights, naturally lend themselves to rhythms of reflecting, preparing, and dreaming of the future. Animals hibernate and go dormant, hunkering down for the season, storing up energy in preparation for spring. In January, New Year’s resolutions bubble to the surface. We envision the version of ourselves we hope to become, dream up a wish list of what we hope to achieve and to create in the upcoming year.

Faced with my blank canvas this winter, I wondered, “What am I creating?”

Now that whispers of spring are around the corner, I still don’t know the answer to my own question. At the beginning of this year, our church pastoral and program staff went on a life-giving and remarkably productive planning retreat together. I wish I could do the same for myself! I wish I could disappear on a retreat for a couple of days and reemerge with an outline of a strategic plan for my new life.

Of course, I had a plan for my life. Marriage, kids, etc. Now that plan is being rewritten. Divorce was never in my vision of a future. Starting over in my 30s was not something I imagined. Yet, here I am. Truthfully, this time for me has been equally exhilarating as it has been terrifying. To arrive at this point, I have weathered a personally challenging, emotionally draining, yet unexpectantly hopeful winter season. I am excited to move forward and to see what comes next in warmer, sunnier months ahead.

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.” — Albert Camus

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