While it seems we are passed the worst of it, during the last few weeks we've been deep in the heart of winter. When my family moved to North Carolina last summer, we had no idea to expect multiple weeks of below-freezing temperatures with ice and snow to boot. It's been a crazy month, weather-wise.
In his book,
Let Your Life Speak, Quaker teacher and activist, Parker Palmer, reflects on the gifts and challenges of winter. He reminds us that while winter is difficult, it also brings quiet renewal, brilliant clarity, and remarkable beauty. He writes, "I am not sure that any sight or sound on earth is as exquisite as the hushed descent of a sky full of snow."
And yet, winter tests our limits. Parker writes, "In the Upper Midwest, newcomers often receive a classic piece of wintertime advice: 'The winters will drive you crazy until you learn to get out into them.' Here people spend good money on warm clothing so that they can get outdoors and avoid the 'cabin fever' that comes from huddling fearfully by the fire during the hard-frozen months. If you live here long, you learn that a daily walk into the winter world will fortify the spirit by taking you boldly to the very heart of the season you fear."
He continues, "Our inward winters take many forms - failure, betrayal, depression, death. But every one of them, in my experience, yields to the same advice: 'The winters will drive you crazy until you learn to get out into them.'"
In so many ways, winter is a season of loss. And this week, our church community is losing our dear musician, Clifford Badgley, as he answers God's call to serve at Christ Church in New Bern. We wish him well and celebrate this new venture with which the Holy Spirit has surprised him. We are also so very sad to see him go.
So, let's mark this moment together. Come on Sunday after the 10:45 worship service and join us for Clifford's farewell reception. Let's send him off in style with countless good wishes and prayers.
And as we move into the future, let's take Parker Palmer's advice. While this change is hard, let's "get out into it." Let's lean into life together during this transition. Let's keep singing joyfully, playing music boldly, and praising God together, even though what God has in store for Good Shepherd isn't clear yet. Let's trust the good work of the search teams that are forming to seek an interim musician and a permanent one. And let's pray for the Holy Spirit to show us grace we didn't even know to hope for.
God is Lord of all seasons, friends. So let's get ready to be surprised by those winter gifts of renewal, clarity, and beauty. And let's trust that spring is on the way.
Peace be with you,