Over the past several weeks the local song leaders here at the Grinnell church of Christ have led the church in the song, “Beyond this Land of Parting” While I truly do appreciate this song and have always loved to sing this song, this winter it has taken on a new meaning for me.
I grew up in Illinois, where our favorite saying about the weather is “If you don’t like it, wait a minute.” It seems that it was always changing. I remember one winter in February the temperatures were hovering around 70. To be able to wear shorts and T-shirt to school in the middle of an Illinois winter is rare indeed. This particular February we went from a 70 high to a wind chill of a balmy -45 in overnight. It was one of the largest temperature swings in the history of Illinois. The crazy weather encouraged me to move south as soon as I could. I went to Tampa, FL for college. It seemed like it was always summer. Even the winters there were really nice, especially compared to the winters we faced back home. The temps were constant, comfortable, and with the exception of the daily afternoon shower… perfect. Flash forward 15 years and I am stuck in Grinnell, IA. This is not a bad thing. Grinnell is a wonderful little town. But stuck I was. For a solid 2 months, every time I tried to leave city limits 3-5 inches were dumped on our beautiful little town. And with the wind always blowing close to 20mph travelling where there are no trees and no building to block the wind made snowdrifts form rather quickly. So, I was stuck. To make matters worse, the weather all across this country has been cold. Here in Iowa, it has been really cold. We went more than a month without breaking freezing. There were a couple of days we didn’t see positive numbers. Wind chills dipped into the -50s on a regular basis. Some might call this a winter wonderland, but I have grown tired of the snow and ice. It has been so cold, I didn’t even watch the winter Olympics, it just made me colder. Ahh, summer. How I long for it. By bones aren’t young like they used to be and this whole winter I have had a constant aching of the bones. My muscles hurt. My back hurts. And I keep thinking summer is not that far away.
So, when this song, “Beyond this Land of Parting” was being sung, it really began to sing to me. The Chorus line speaks of going to the happy summer land of bliss. As I sang those words I began to understand the point of the song. It is hoping that “summer” is not that far away. All the pain, all the sorrow that comes from living in this “winter” land will come to an end just as soon as summer gets here. As the years go by, I know that my new aches and pains will give me yet another reminder that summer is almost here. And with each passing day, I know that I am one step closer. And this is what helps me get up each morning and deal with long winter day.