“I realise there’s something incredibly honest about trees in winter, how they’re experts at letting things go.”
Winter has never been a favorite of mine. Something about the tapered, empty arms of maple and oak. Or the death-rattle whisper of frozen wind. But last year, someone else who never loved winter told me he learned to appreciate it because of the emerging spring. Had winter not wrapped a chilly fist around the world, he might never have appreciated spring’s rebirth in its thawed hand.
After discovering today’s quote, I think I have two reasons to appreciate winter better, now.
I’m a child of spring and summer. Tightly furled buds and tenacious greenery. Sunlight clinging to sky and skin. I come from a place where things are clutched tight. It’s foreign to me to extend my hand and let the breeze whisk away. Yet I’ve had a flat palm for some time now.
There’s something very naked about letting go. I’m a bit of a fighter—I hold on. It’s hard to let go: of memories, of worries, of fears, of grudges...of people. But here I am. My fingers outstretched. Nothing but a stinging chill in hand.
I’m a stranger in this place. And for a first time, that doesn’t frighten me like it might have. There’s a knotted bit of resignation in place of fear. I don’t think there’s anything to be done for it. Because sometimes, things die.
I’ve never heard a tree complain over shed leaves—but I bet they feel it. Like I feel it. Little bits of you left to spin away, faded and colorless. Dead. Sometimes, those memories are scattered around me, sprawled in sunny gold, dusty cumin, and rusted blood. Before, I might have fought to keep them. Now, I feel like all I can do is stand against the breeze and watch it all whirl beyond reach.
The beautiful thing about words is that I get to be purposely vague, saying so little with so much. Perhaps I should just say that it hurts when things die. It hurts to lose something that mattered. It hurts when the best thing to do is to let someone go when it gets brittle and crumbles.
I guess there’s a third thing to appreciate about winter: a blanketing field of numb white. All of those torn, shredded bits that fell away disappear beneath the cold, and for a time, everything’s still.
Despite the lost leaves, I still have it all. Deep, life-giving roots, strong branches—a family foundation I bless God for daily. And come spring, new life will grow. Some are old seeds, given new life. Some are new seeds, giving life. I’ll uncurl a frozen fist and my heart will thaw.
Because hope is like that. It lives—even after it dies.
*image from flikr