Winter is here! Perhaps I speak too soon. With our running record, this could be the only snow we get all year. But I am crossing my fingers for more to come. (I say this knowing that all you snow haters are just gonna hate. It’s ok. I won’t judge you.)
Alaska is a funny place. I like to think we have a culture all our own. That calling the rest of the states “The Lower 48” as if we are our own country has its clout.
In summer, Alaskans busy themselves like baristas serving coffee to a line out the door. We fish and hunt and mow our lawns at midnight. We hike trails on Tuesday nights after a full day of work because we are afraid that Tuesday might be the only day of sunshine we will see all summer. We have a serious case of summer FOMO (fear of missing out) because once we blink, summer will be over. With only three short months, we have to pack it all in.
Then fall arrives. It brings the hope of slower days, but school starts again and we still have to haul the firewood and get used to new schedules, and we are not quite ready to retreat entirely from summer’s wake, because, well, maybe there will be just a few more days of weather that will not induce severe teeth chattering and require auto-starting our cars.
However, inevitably, as we experienced once again Thursday night, like the Pevensie children walking through the wardrobe to Narnia, we go to sleep to autumn and wake up to winter. The trees of the East Coast are barely changing colors and we find ourselves under a potentially-eternal blanket of white.
This rapid change brings out mixed feelings. Winter is here, and we all know how long it will be. While the magic of the first snowfall may enrapture us, we know that by March, Alaskans will be escaping to Hawaii by the droves. Though many of us will be needing to break out our SAD lights, we will probably each gain ten pounds, and the road is long before us, I have always viewed winter as a wonderful opportunity to slow down our busy lives.
Perhaps we dread winter because of the monotony it presents to us: pure white for days, for months, forever? Some days it seems that way. Monotony is often something we avoid. The tedious days. The same old routine. Eating the same meals. It seems to many people to be something that indicates a lesser life.
In his book Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton offers an alternative perspective to monotony and sheds a fresh light on our approach (and God’s, too) to the topic. He talks of children, who never tire of the things they delight in. When a father lifts his child on his legs to fly like an airplane, the child tirelessly requests, “Do it again!” Chesterton reflects that a child “kicks his legs rhythmically [on the swing] through excess, not absence of life” (p. 44).
“Grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun, and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger that we” (p. 44-45).
While it indeed does lack its warmth, welcome the sun when it rises, though it be late in its daily arrival, and smile as it lights our sky in the prettiest princess pink. Perhaps it only rises because God is delighting in saying, “Do it again.” Perhaps He is saying to us in our daily living, daily loving, daily trying, “Do it again.” Let’s rejoice in that today and every winter day to come.
G. K. Chesterton. Orlando: Relevant, 2006. Print.