We were dancing on a dance floor, lights flickering in the darkness, but her face was glowing in the shades of dark purples and blues. I took her hands in mine and said “Are you happy? Like really happy?” And she responded “I am. I really am.” Pulling me away from our dancing, she led me outside down a path covered in snow. The snow was so deep, but the sun was shining and after the dark dance floor, I basked in the new light of day. At the end of the path, there was a beautiful strawberry patch. Huge, ripe strawberries were in abundance and she told me this was her patch; she had planted all of these berries and had been tending them despite the snow. She picked me a huge berry and I took a bite, smiling at my luck to have such a wonderful friend who managed to grow strawberries despite the cold of winter.
And then I woke up.
That was my dream last night about a dear friend of mine. We’ve been friends for almost 14 years, and despite the fact that I hardly see her anymore because of the miles between my small Pennsylvania town and her North Carolinian suburb, we are kindred spirits. Time nor place can do much to a friendship like ours.
The dream was a needed reminder to me that there is nothing so constant as the changing of seasons and that inevitably, despite the cold or dark of the winter, spring and summer will come. Inevitably. Eventually. Song of Solomon 2:11-12 states, “For behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.” Winter will end. Always. And here it is May 1. And sunny. And warm. Winter IS over.
The literal winter for us was brutal. My husband’s schedule was erratic, at best, and coupled with a rather challenging newborn, and the transitions occurring in our growing family, we felt like the winter would never end. Ever. The sun would never shine.
Metaphorically, I’ve just come out of a dark winter, and it was the hardest winter of my life, which is still to say I am blessed. My life has been charmed, so my hardships are incredibly relative and I know it. But, even as my head knew this, my heart truly perseverated on the day to day struggles, all minor. I wasn’t the only one struggling and the friend mentioned above had her own struggles–much more complicated than my own. Actually, all around me, people seemed to be suffering. A few friends with grandparents or parents ill and ultimately passing away. Others had sick kids, with one cold or flu after another. A co-worker fighting for her life. A friend trying to get pregnant. Another dealing with a toddler who was making life with a new baby hard. And yet another trying to find a house to make a home in a new place. Everyone I knew seemed to have her own winter. And we all kept chugging for the promise of the end and relief. We lifted one another up in friendship and for those of us who pray, we prayed. And for the others, they meditated and tried to funnel good energy. And we made it. We did it. Prayer and these friendships sustained me.
Winter is over. Spring is here. Summer is on her way. My dream, though, reminded me that there is a dance in the winter; strawberries can be eaten in winter. The dance with my friends and the authenticity of those friendships has sustained me.
Strawberries and dancing in winter. Yes. Even if things might seem a struggle in the winters of our lives, there is a gift in the struggle. If we do the dance with our struggles, the strawberries at the end taste all the sweeter. Here’s to dancing and eating strawberries, my sweet friends. Dance and eat strawberries even if it is only 20 degrees outside and snowing