This weekend, winter whispered its arrival with dropping temperatures and light snow mixing in with the still green and leaf strewn lawn. This reminded me of the Albert Camus quote which I dust off whenever the weather or the times turn bleak:
“In the midst of winter I found there was within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me there is something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”
This is a comforting thought as we move towards the darkest days of the year, in this already dark and tumultuous time. Singing out from our souls is the thought that no matter how cold the winter; no matter how long the darkness descends upon us; God has given us the model for perseverance, for love, for the inevitable brightness and warmth that drives out all that is mean, cold and dark. God has given us – both in the world and in our hearts - an invincible summer.
It is no accident that the holiday season of Thanksgiving – Christmas – New Year all center on the meteorological time of year when the darkest days wane and sunlight grows longer. During this period, we hope for brighter times as we celebrate family and friends and as we pray for peace throughout the world. We are often told to set aside our differences and celebrate the meaning of the season. Celebrating the “reason for the season” is good advice, especially following the brutal presidential campaign and the shocking election results.
Staying focused on God and not on all the glitz and the presents and the hoopla is important. Equally important is to stay focused on God throughout the year and particularly as we begin to debate a new direction for our country. For example, staying focused on God would mean that our immigration policies reflect the idea that we are all children of God. Any health care or Medicare proposals would be measured against the ministry of Jesus who healed both the body and the soul unconditionally. When considering cuts to social security, we would remind ourselves of the commandment that calls us to honor our elders. As congress proposes yet another tax cut for the wealthy we would reflect on the biblical cry for a preferential option for the poor. And when we face the prospect of climate change we would remember that we are called to be stewards of this earth.
I expect these policy decisions will be foisted upon us, wave upon wave beginning after the holidays and that the discussion around them will be contentious. As we stand with our faces turned resolutely towards the cold blustery winds of those who want to divide us; who want to use hate and fear to manipulate us during these debates, we must remember: there is an eternal light of God shining through our souls and calling us to bring about the kingdom of God here on earth. We do this by assessing our actions, our words and our policy decisions as if through the eyes of God. We do this by remembering that the warmth and brightness of God will prevail no matter how bitter the battle or how long it may take. Summer - and the will of God - is inevitable.
Michael Soika has been a community activist for more than 30 years working on issues of social and economic justice. His work for justice is anchored by his spiritual formation first as a Catholic and now as a Quaker.