In the throws of an early and particularly snowy winter, many have questioned us about our recent move from Atlanta to Minneapolis. I myself have wondered if we should have our heads examined, especially while shoveling out of the last 17 inch snowfall. I tell myself we didn't move to Minneapolis for the weather, though oddly there is something familiar and comforting in the snowy landscape that dominates our sight.
Today I took a walk in that snowy landscape. As I looked around me and saw no green, no growth, as I felt the bite of the bitter wind on my cheeks and observed the dead plants and dormant trees all around, I wondered - can this place ever live again? Will winter last forever? Can the earth recover and live and grow again?
In order to find an answer, I must visit my memory and see there visions of a verdant landscape, of green plants and flowering trees that come with spring. Without memory, I would have no experience other than the present dead of winter on which to base my future hope.
My mother has lost her capacity for memory. The other day when I visited her I found her sad and hurt because my father had to leave her for an hour to run an errand. She did not remember that he had told her where he was going and when he would return, so she thought he had simply abandoned her. Her memory loss often leaves her sad and hurt. With no memory of the spring, she lives in perpetual winter.
What hope is there for those who those have lived in winter so long that they can no more remember spring? They have none, except perhaps to hear from those with the memory of the story that tells of the end of winter and the coming of new life. In this season of Advent, when in the deep midwinter we await the coming of the Savior, our memories can fade and even fail us. It is now more important than ever to tell the story of hope, to share the memory of rebirth, to remind each other that new life follows the dead of winter, to speak of the one is born to save us from our sin. Through our collective memory and storytelling, through sharing the recollections of new life that has followed death, through telling the story of God's love come to earth to renew us and all creation, we can make it through this cold and barren winter and once again experience the joy of Spring. So Go Tell it on the Mountain!: God's love is born among us in our deep midwinter to bring new life.