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Chaplain’s Corner: Hope for the winter

Through my window I see a white river; it is covered by snow. For the time being, the Saint John River appears to be frozen and the brisk dearth of snow that crusts its icy expanse is all the eye can see. In spite of all the grandeur and seemingly impenetrable potency of this winter icescape, there are daring beams of sunlight creeping through the trees and sprawling their way across the once liquid tundra. Almost like winter’s own nemesis, the sunlight dashes rays of hope into the bleakness of this otherwise unforgiving winter. With the wind chill, it is 31 degrees below zero.

Winter does different things for each of us. For some, winter is a joyous occasion, with snowmobiles, hockey, snow angels and other wintery treats. For others, you dread winter; you know full well that the lack of sunshine will leave you cranky by mid-February, your bones, fingers and dreary mind pining for the warmth of the sun. In ages past, many worshipped the sun, knowing it was a source of life. Our current-day scientific lens has given more complicated terms to the experience of sunlight and warmth, such as Vitamin D, but quite simply, we are solar powered.

For many of us who find ourselves situated so dreadfully far from the equator, we can find ourselves a bit “draggy” this rather challenging time of year. As it were, it is said that in order to get through a challenging time, it is helpful to have something to look forward to, something to hope for. For me, this winter may be radically different. For this first time in my life, I have planned a trip down south to sunny Florida over the March break. At the request of my perpetually and incomprehensibly generous parents, I will join them in their wintering locale. In many regards, having this little trip on the horizon speaks to a larger part of the human experience: hope. Even through our darkest winters, longest days and most sleepless nights, we are able to endure the occasional bleakness of human life, so long as we have something to look forward to, some hope on the horizon.

As it fits for this story, the sun and its sunshine are our hope. To put it more succinctly: it is the hope in the bleakness of the dry, desperate winter. It is the sun, the sunshine and the hope of spring’s eternal renewal.

In our lives, hope is perhaps one of the greatest gifts we can carry with us along life’s path. It can see us through a dreary winter, sooth the sadness of lost love or ease the burden of grief; hope nudges us forward when we otherwise might just stay stuck.

What is it that brings you hope? Maybe it’s the completion of your degree program and finally getting to set out on your own, to chart your own path in the world. Maybe it’s the thought of being reunited with that boyfriend or girlfriend with whom you have endured the past few years of a long-distance relationship. Maybe hope, for you, is packaged in a much smaller container. Maybe it’s the quiet solace of a Friday night snuggled up near a fire with a good book and a warm mug of hot chocolate. Whatever is your source of hope for the winter, or perhaps more generally, for your life, I offer you encouragement to embrace that which brings wind to your sails and fuel for the fire that burns brightly within your soul. Soon the warmth of the summer will return and our keen eyes and wide smiles will grin as we embrace it.

As always, you can reach me via email (bourquek@unb.ca), in person (C.C. Jones Student Services building), by phone (453-5089) or our blog: Blogs.unb.ca/chaplains-corner/. Peace.

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