That morning, the soil beneath my feet smelled nourished and wet, marked by the grand indifference of rain. It was a deep black, and the pine branches a brilliant green. There was a filmy veil of soft dull mist obscuring the deep black earth but not entirely, as the coppered leaves lay in wait for the gentle touch of frost soon to come.
It is almost winter.
I should have seen it coming, I suppose, but I have carried it in my bones for so many years now that I don’t always notice its weight. It sneaks in through locked doors and settles in, a gnawing interior discomfort, languid and unhurried. And when I least expect it, grief, and its windy ways, blows in when ready and exerts its will. After nearly six years, I can almost pre-empt triggers, and I have learned to navigate the gentle nudges of disquiet along the way, but grief is a shapeshifter. The moment I think I have mastered it; it shows up on my doorstep with a different face. And in the shadow of a global pandemic and collective loss, the black and white of winter amplifies, for me, how apart I have felt for years.
When days like this sneak in, I tend to isolate. It is the companion of fear, an overwhelming instinct to protect myself. It is grief anticipated, and pain draws its potency from the mistaken belief that loss has the final word. These sorts of seasons are frustrating. Seasons of hardship; seasons of silence; seasons of separation can be jarring. In quiet seasons, God seems very distant.
And so, I wait, and waiting is hard.
Sometimes it seems as if I have always, essentially, been waiting. Waiting, in a state of hesitation and held breath, waiting for winter to pass. It has been a long quiet season, a prolonged period of stillness and silence. But here is the truth about silence. We hear sounds in the solitude that we never hear in the hurried turmoil of pedestrian life. And when I shift my perspective, there are abundant, delicate sounds that are amplified in silence. These curious creaks, mutters, and hums remind me that quiet has a quality and a dimension all its own.
God is not hiding in quiet seasons; He is creating space for us to seek Him. And in seasons of waiting, we can neither hurry nor hasten the work of God.
Beyond the quiet, I am confident, curious, and calm, and I am stretching and growing, not beyond but around my grief. And though, now, life seems small, I know that there is a purpose for this season. Before he became King, David was just a faithful shepherd boy. No one would have guessed what was to come. In David’s quiet season, God was preparing him for so much more.
Grief is not a journey, though we are led to believe that this is so. Journeys have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Grief does not. It merely stops becoming the compass by which we live our lives. I no longer flinch as winter comes rolling in, I welcome quiet seasons, because grief revisited is love remembered, and grief confronted does not have the final say.