Is Winter a state of mind?

January 13, 2021

Two recent posts to the blog Jack’s Winning Words just seem to belong together and point to our ability to deal with the season we call winter –

“Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the face.”  (Victor Hugo)

-and-

“Even in winter it shall be green in my heart.”  (Frederik Chopin)

Chopin and Hugo both point to solutions to the gloom and depression that winter can bring on. The shorter days and cloudy darkness, especially in northern areas can exacerbate effects of the cold and being forced to stay indoors so much. This year in particular with the COVID-19 pandemic overlaid on top of the winter weather, it can be an especially tough time. Yet, like other events in our lives, we hold the key to how we react to the dark and unhospitable physical environment of winter.

Pastor Freed wrote that Chopin was a romantic and that it showed in his music. Romanics, I believe, also tend to be optimistic about life, since they imagine successful romantic outcomes to situations. Victor Hugo was also an important figure in the French Romantic Movement.

Perhaps the difference is that the romantic looks ahead and imagines the end of winter and the rebirth offered by spring. In the heart of the romantic, they imagine the green of Spring and that vision sustains them through the gloom of winter. The romantic might also find things to laugh at amidst the gloom and that helps keep winter at bay.

Like everything else in life, taking a passive approach doesn’t really work. One can’t just sit there and say, “All right, make me laugh” or “Show me the green”. The effects of winter on us mentally has even got a name (doesn’t every thing these days). It is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). So, if you are sad because of SAD, here is a link to a nice article of things that you can do about it. As you read the article notice that much of the advice revolves around how to implement the advice of Hugo and Chopin.

All of this points to the conclusion that the title of this post aims at. While the winter season is very real, it is the “Winter” in our minds that we must deal with. We must not let gloom and doom creep into our lives along with the cold of the season. We must work at finding the things that we can laugh at and maintain the hope of sprint, the sure knowledge that better days are ahead.

For the Christian that hope is found in Easter, which portends the Spring in our lives. We first had Christmas to brighten up the beginning of winter and now we have Easter to chase winter away and usher in the rebirth of Spring. We can laugh in the face of the gloom and maintain the green in our hearts because we know what is coming and what is next.

So, is the Winter in my mind one of gloom and sadness? No, that is not my state of mind; for I am already looking forward to Easter and the rebirth for the earth and for me personally that it heralds. It is green in my mind already and that makes me want to laugh at winter.  How about you?


Three little words – the greatest three of all time

April 4, 2015

It is Easter tomorrow and we will be using these three words. I belong to a church that is a part of the Christian Faith, in my case Holy Spirit Lutheran Church, an ELCA congregation in West Bloomfield, Michigan. There are many religions other than Christianity. Most of them also have a book (we have the Bible – Old and New Testaments) that contains the historical foundation of their beliefs, whether it is the Talmud, The Bhagavad-Gita, The Vedas, Qur’an, Zhuan Falun, New World Translation of the Scriptures,The Book of Mormon or Adi Granth. Most religions also have some concept of an afterlife, somewhere one goes or some state that one achieves after the death of their earthly body. I would submit for your consideration that Christianity is the only religion that has documented proof. Lawyers, whether on the prosecution or defense side of a case would probably tell you that there is no stronger evidence than corroborated testimony from eye witnesses to the events being adjudicated.  In the case of Christianity, there is compelling and corroborated testimony by several eye witnesses to a remarkable event that confirms our belief in an afterlife. What those witnesses saw and reported can be summed up in the same three little words – He is risen.

The book that we use as our foundation – the Bible – has multiple, independent versions of the same events in the life of Jesus, his death and his resurrection. There are many other corroborating accounts in the books that were left out of the modern Canonical version of the Bible. Had He not come back multiple times to meet with the Disciples and confirm for them his resurrection the story would have moved forward with the belief that someone had somehow stolen His body and perhaps the whole Christian movement would have faded into history. However, accounts from the time record that He did return to appear before Mary Magdalen at the tomb and twice in a locked room with the Disciples and against on the road as two of the disciples travels to another town. There is a fascinating Web site that documents the many accounts of witnesses to this remarkable event. The evidence of these eye witness accounts is very convincing and confirms that He is risen.

Throughout his life Jesus went about doing the things that fulfilled various predictions of the future (prophesies) that had been made and recorded in the old testament, which was the historical basis of the Jewish faith.  Even his death on the cross was foretold and the empty tomb gave silent testimony to  the final fulfilment of the prophesies – the fact that on the third day after his death He is risen.

So, tomorrow morning we will all greet each other with those three little words – He is risen – and reply to that greeting with the retort “He is risen indeed.” We will hear sermons about the resurrection, then we will go home and celebrate the traditional, non-religious version of the holiday with Easter Bunnies, and Easter Eggs and family gatherings. We will feast on the Easter meal and perhaps end the day tired and in a stupor from too much food and drink. But somewhere, just before we drift off to sleep and head into another ordinary day in our lives, empty tombsomewhere in the back of our minds we will feel a sense of well-being and peace that comes from again hearing the echo of those three little words – He is risen.

Have a happy Easter because, He is risen indeed!