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Soul Searching

Tom Saretsky


I’ve been feeling a little discouraged lately by Mother Nature’s insistence that winter stay around for as long as it can. We were given an unseasonably mild winter this year, but maybe nature is recalling the loan for the mildness we experienced. Now we’re paying the debt back.

Does it seem as if spring arrives later and later each year? The Canada geese usually arrive at the same time, and their arrival has always been a mood booster for me, yet for a few years now, it feels as if we’re being robbed of spring and cheated out of what would normally be moderate and mild temperatures at this time of year.

The weather has been terribly inconsistent. Just this morning we awoke to freezing rain, followed by a snow squall of fist-sized, fat flakes. By lunch time it was a balmy plus nine degrees, albeit with gale-force winds. And there it is: in the morning we’re given polar-cold wind blasts, and in the afternoon we bask in balmy temperatures.

Have you ever been asked questions such as, “Cold enough for ’ya?” or “Wet enough for ’ya?” “Is it getting any warmer out there?” Or even, “Do you think it’ll warm up soon?” These questions can easily get two strangers talking, as weather is the safest topic of conversation that can exist between two people.

I’ve been a weather watcher forever, and I’ve always enjoyed meteorological conversations. My mood, unfortunately, can be dictated by the forecast. I curse the Weather Network and lose patience with meteorologists when the weather is bad . . . as if bad weather is their fault! It gives me a perverse sense of satisfaction to do this. Someone has to take the blame. It can’t be God.

I gave up praying for favourable or good weather long ago. It’s an exercise in futility. It’s not like God mixes up the highs and lows in order to give some areas rain and others dry conditions. God doesn’t adjust the jet stream to bring in warm air from the south, and God doesn’t push cold Arctic air over us giving us these chilling conditions for this time of year. The laws of nature do that for us, and God does not manipulate the laws of nature. Having said that, I appreciate the need to pray for good weather because it proves that our reliance is upon God.

We can’t do anything about weather. We can curse it all we want but, ultimately, it’s not in our hands. And so we surrender it to God’s hands. Prayer, in this way, is never in vain. 

In order to understand the coming of God’s kingdom, Jesus says we have to look for the signs. He says that when you see people treating others kindly and compassionately you know that God is near, much in the same way that the leaves on the trees tell us that summer is here. There hasn’t been much to indicate that spring is even here, let alone summer, but even though we haven’t seen the signs, we believe spring will eventually come: “Happy are those who have not seen, but yet believe.”

Our spirits easily droop with the continual onslaught of cold winds and cold temperatures. May God thaw the despair in our hearts and summon nature’s Lazarus to come forth from its icy tomb to replenish the earth with greenery, warmth and new life. 

Saretsky is a teacher and chaplain at Holy Cross High School in Saskatoon. He and his wife, Norma, have two children, Nathan and Jenna.