There is a Season

Kristina Pantoja-Russell, LLPC, LLMFT

Every year there are predictions of what the coming winter will bring in Michigan.

Will we have a white Christmas?
Will it be unseasonably warm?
Will we have 15 feet of snow?
Will we experience another Polar Vortex?

As we contemplate these predictions in fear, we begin to wish away what we don’t want. We think of the ideal winter (is there such a thing?) and how we might survive until spring. Vacations are planned to tropical, sunny places - to the light.

I have noticed a similar pattern in my own life in regard to darkness. As a new season of life approaches I make goals for what I’d like to accomplish and dream of ways I’d like it to unfold. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the darkness --

deep sadness
grief
uncertainty
fear
insecurity
anxiety
conflict

crawls into my life. I curse the darkness. I am in pain; hope and light are absent. But what I have come to realize (after the cursing, of course) is the darkness is full of longing, meaning, and purpose. Just as the winter has perfect purpose in the course of the seasons; resting and preparing for new life in the spring, the darkness of my life invites me to express my sadness and wrestle with my fears in order to acknowledge the truth and foster growth. It is through the darkness I find courage and fresh renewal to seek the light again.

In summary, there are no tips or tricks I can impart to you about how to “survive” the darkness and cold of winter, but, rather, I long to share this space with you as a fellow human. To sit in it. To contemplate it. To find meaning in it. To find the light in it. Because spring always follows winter.

And so, as you live in the darkness and cold with the hope of spring, know there is a space for you to just be, whatever season you are in.

(It may be important (and comical!) for you to know that much of this piece was written sitting in my cold, powerless home, literally waiting for the warmth and light. Oh, Michigan!)

Lindsey Bandy