Into a new year
Looking at a snow-covered hill in Madison
As I leave the Beeck-Fields House, I find comfort in seeing the snow-covered field behind the residence. I started 2017 in Madison, Wisconsin on a cold winter night and I find myself here, again, to end it, in even colder weather.
Back then, I left Wisconsin from Columbus and headed into Chicago on a fast-moving train — as if to rush me through what would have to come next. And indeed, I would only hope to rush with what actually came next: financial ruin caused by a pair of personal failures that finally caught up with me, and physically collapsing several times, waking up in an ICU unit at Illinois Masonic being told that I had an under 60% chance of death.
I met springtime with uncertainty and disillusionment. My health slowly moved against the healthy gains of the past few years, regaining weight and increasing anxiety.
And then summer came.
The train sped faster and then derailed.
Unexpectedly and in haste, I was promoted director at work — though bringing its own new stresses, also redirected me from financial insecurity and set me on professional upward, forward movement that I thought would continue to elude me.
Here I am again in Madison, staring at snow. And I hear those same friends I love, who have helped provide much-needed diversions for me, downstairs, as they load up the car.
I like the covered field. It’s a comforting reminder that there is always a warming springtime that comes with every winter — that snowclad scapes are never permanent, that there is a thaw, there is regrowth, and all that was always there, the stuff that really matter, will be uncovered again.
I’m not leaving Wisconsin in darkness this time, not on a speeding train. I leave with friends, driving through the farmland, the cornfields and dairy pastures, red barns gleaming in the sunlight, on our way to Chicago, my home, and into a new year.