Last winter, I needed my children to remake my attitude toward winter.
I felt limp and placid from the dense darkness that extended every morning and evening. The frigid wind biting my face, dry air crafting cracks in my hands, and ice gnawing at my toes while I struggled not to slip all made my jaw ache. Snow meant fewer walks and deep inhales of pine-needle air—fewer drives to visit with friends and family. All of the weather meant less sleep from nights of waking up at 1:00 a.m. to realize the wood furnace had gone out and our blankets weren’t enough to keep us warm until morning.
Winter meant being pressed in. Snow meant insulation.
Yet when our first snowfall came on November first, I lifted my head to the darkened window with a blanket half folded in my hand and exclaimed, “Boys! Come quickly to the window!” My heart leapt inside me, perhaps as John the Baptist had inside Elizabeth’s womb. I beamed with my boys as they watched in silent wonder at the snow tumbling from the sky.
That afternoon, we spent thirty minutes resurrecting snow gear from the basement and bundling up for sledding, building, and snowball throwing.
And I had fun.
I remember when this change happened to me. It was before I had the twins, though perhaps I was bursting from their pregnancy. My oldest had his face pressed up against the window, likely leaving smudged imprints of his nose, lips, and chin. He pressed his hands against the panes and sighed. “When will it snow, Mommy? I want to play in the snow.”
I literally felt heavy with sadness. I wanted snow for him too. In that moment, my love for my boy stretched over my hatred for snow and winter and absorbed it. Isn’t that often how the fairytale goes? That goodness and love overcome the evil one’s hatred either by destroying his wicked spell or by changing the villain’s heart.
Hope, I’ve come to see, isn’t much different. To have the kind of hope that remakes us—the kind that prods us awake from our sleep, calls us out of stupors, and leads to newness—requires love.
I’m adverse to hope and remaking. If I hope for the best, I’ll be disappointed or deceived. If I believe change will really come or that my own heart could truly be remade, then I’ll be grieved even more when time slugs by without any movement towards revision. Let me never hope again because I never want to feel crestfallen and dispirited again.
Yet this is a kind of death reeking in me, and I need the love of Christ to press in and swallow it whole. Death—whether real or metaphorical—indicates an absolute end, an icy darkness with no sun to melt it. Christ’s love is a resurrecting love which declares to death that this is not the end. By Jesus’ work on the cross, all of death’s barbs are filed off and Sheol’s sting is removed (Hosea 13:14). Spring will come because he promised it would.
This is why Paul said that love is greater than faith and hope. Faith and hope will one day be made moot as they are fulfilled when the Father draws each of his children to eternal life, yet love will remain. This is why love must take hope by the hand and lead it. Or, as Emily Dickinson put it,
“‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all -”
Our Redeemer led me through much remaking. Over the years of mental illness, the locusts ate much from our lives—and those years invited me to hate winter. Through mental illnesses, medical emergencies, miscarriages, and lost friendships, his love kept carrying and leading me, feeding that spark of hope even when it was a single dimly glowing ember. This is the kind of hope that presses on, that can’t be extinguished, because it is tended to by the Everlasting One.
“And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -”
Yes, my hand must reach for hope, but Christ seizes that hand and draws me up and out. It’s all by his love which fans my love for him. This is the kind of love-driven hope Emily Dickinson wrote about:
“I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.”
Hope that remakes must be hope that rests. God did a work in me through my love for my children, to see the beauty and wonder of a fresh snowfall. As I saw their wide, bright eyes pressed as closely to the window pane as they could be, the frosty winter that had insulated my heart melted. I laced up my winter boots, warmed by the contagious joy from my little ones. I stood back in the silence from the snow, watching my oldest drag a sled up the hill, one of the twins squish snowballs between his mitts, and the other twin whisk his arms and legs to make a snow angel as he’d seen Little Bear do. I breathed a sigh, watching the white air coil from my mouth, feeling a smile tug at my lips.
God remade me through hope that He never let die, hope He implanted as a small, timid ember. He fanned it, He fed it, he tended it to bring me here—not as a mom laden with bitter jadedness from all she’d love and suffered, but a mom with joy in the brokenness through love. It took much fanning, feeding, and tending, but thank God, Christ never grows weary. This is hope.
 Emily Dickinson, “‘Hope’ Is the Thing with Feathers,” Poetry Foundation, accessed December 20, 2023, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/42889/hope-is-the-thing-with-feathers-314.
The featured image is courtesy of Julie Jablonski and is used with her kind permission for Cultivating.
Lara d’Entremont is first a wife and a mom to three little wildlings in rural Nova Scotia, Canada. While the wildlings snore, she primarily writes—whether it be personal essays, creative nonfiction, or fantasy novels. She desires to weave the stories between faith and fiction, theology and praxis, for women who feel as if these pieces of them are always at odds. Her first book, A Mother Held, is a collection of essays on the early days of motherhood and anxiety. Much of her writing is inspired by the forest and ocean that surround her, and her little ones that remind her to stop and see it.
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