Time marches on.
One thing I love about the seasons is the rhythmic steadiness with which they arrive. Winter turns to spring, spring turns to summer, summer turns to fall; and fall gives way to winter yet again. You can mark your calendar. You can take it to the bank. You can count the days. No matter your favorite season or the climate in which you live, time pushes forward, babies have birthdays, and rain, snow and leaves fall and the sun shines.
Time marches on.
The month of March holds two seasons in tension. The often-brutal winter comes to an end; the spring arrives in all its grandeur, beauty and bloom. Dull and dormant plants awaken and bud again promising sustenance and shelter for the woodland creatures birthing their little ones. Birds sing after a quiet silence and the monochromatic barren tones of the cold fill with living vibrancy and color.
March holds warring experiences and emotions for me. Every March I must fight to soldier on, to grow, to live untouched by the winter season of my soul. The longer I’ve felt the rhythmic pounding of many Marches, I realize negative memories associated with dates and seasons unsettle me.
(Un)incredible Hulk’s birthday. There was significant angst around any type of holiday as he was often agitated, and I never did anything right. Anger and violence were bed partners to all special occasions I spent with him which made them noteworthy memories albeit harmful, hurtful and painful.
Over Spring Break, I dropped out of college, failing, and moved 700 miles north to a strange city and a new job, bunking on a borrowed bed. It was no Florida beach vacation. I was a college dropout because I was running away from IPV, intimate partner violence. My departure from school was on the heels of our relationship's abusive cycle becoming public through eyewitnesses seeing him punch me, cuss me, threaten me with a deep disdain and chase me down in a violent interchange. This can still bring me feelings of shame, embarrassment, isolation and loss. It was an expensive and costly Spring Break endeavor to leave behind my sophomore year of higher education— in more ways than one. I left confused, sad and still very much ‘in love’ with my abuser as messed up as that sounds, it is.
Fast forward 10 years and the baby I miscarried had his due date in March. Not every year, but many years, I feel profound sadness for the loss of a child I carried. I had felt a unique angst that my due date was near the Hulk's birthday and often blamed myself that I subconsciously had rejected the baby because of it. Though only with us a little while, even in the years my sadness is tempered and at peace, I always remember. My March baby became my September baby when the sonogram doppler found no heartbeat. So, March hits differently.
Last year, my March was particularly difficult as I had a kind of crisis of faith, deep grief, and break in tender relationships.
Time marches on.
Ash Wednesday and Lent are upon us. This is a Church universal practice. By its very design, we are meant to pray, lament, practice introspection, ‘give up’, fast from the vices and remember our Lord’s suffering and death. It carries all the colors of winter, really. And can be a real exercise of voluntary suffering.
The redemption of this month is a gift. New life, new growth and new love did find me.
The Spring Break after I was college dropout, my (now) husband and I had our first (and second) dates. He was a long-time friend. To me, there was never a man—any man— more gentle in this life. The contrast to (Un)incredible Hulk compares like the absolute hardest, coldest most barren winter versus the most perfect, warm, absolutely fruitful and life-giving spring. We celebrate this every year on the ides of March — the anniversary of our first date — because it smells like redemption’s rain to me.
Thirty years ago this month, we entered our first full time ministry as pastors of a small church in the mountains of North Carolina. Three years later, we arrived in the middle of a March snowstorm to our truest church home— a congregation of friends in Ohio that became family and gave us seven years of pastoral Spring.
For as poorly as christian men in positions of power handled the domestic violence I faced on a christian campus, dear and godly men in these churches gave us hope again. They helped us to grow, we birthed babies in these towns, and we experienced a fruitful season.
Some years and sometimes, March holds Easter and the Celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord. If not in March, Lent always certainly yields to a stone rolled away, an empty tomb and a risen Christ!
My Winter did indeed give way to Spring. By design, barrenness gives way to life. In the timeless march of the seasons, we sing again. Hope springs eternal.
Time marches on.
I am still trusting in miracles to redeem hurt and wounded places carved out by winter’s chill.
As a line of soldiers marches to the rhythmic sound of their command, so ought we. Everywhere they go in basic training, they march. It’s kindof a big deal. It’s a foundational bedrock of military life.
*Mark time, march!
Change step, march!
In life, maybe your days, months and seasons hold fighting emotions too— the most painful memories coupled with the happiest times of your life. Maybe your winters are always long and hard, characterized by depression, unresolved grief or untouched trauma. Maybe life can just be difficult for you in a colorless and cold world. Your winter is yours and you might be fighting the elements in isolation or with fear.
Friend, spring is coming. Its rhythm sounds like time marching on. Winter will yield. The seasons clap steadily like boots hitting the ground in concerted fashion. You will sing again. You will find new life and growth peering from the underbrush. The Lord will redeem and resurrect the decaying places. He will flush your face with color and sunshine. He will give hope and healing to you for ‘to everything, there is a season.’
Time marches on.
Life is a battle for our hearts and minds to believe the thaw of spring will come. The winter will end. It is a foundational bedrock you must believe and grasp its Truth. You can take it to the bank. You can count the days.
“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight, At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more, When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death, And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Beauty and joy are near. March toward the spring of your soul. It’s a cadence we must call out. We must keep in step if not for ourselves, for others.
Left right left.
Weary traveler, stand tall.
Struggling survivor, boot up.
Wintered heart, on command.
Time marches on, seasoned soldier.