Someday soon, pop music will start wafting through the urban canyons where I live.
Rap, salsa and generic rock will sound from apartment windows suddenly thrown open, from cars cruising by, and from boom boxes stationed beside dominoes players at sidewalk card tables. Styles will collide, and they certainly will drown out spring birds. But no matter. The longest winter on record — or at least the longest since last year — will have ended, and the city can breathe its annual sigh of relief.
We did it. We survived the snow and bitter cold. We survived urban indignities like skyrocketing rents and public servants who care little for the public or for serving. We survived snow days when families who depend on public schools not only for education but also for day care and basic nutrition found themselves trapped, and entitled folks complained when schools were kept open after snow to serve those basic human needs.
For the many — more than 50 percent — who are living on the edge, winter coats made it through another year.
In the drama of urban survival, spring is victory lane. No need to pay Consolidated Edison for heat or cooling. Not so much feeling trapped in tiny spaces that weren't what we expected New York life to be. On a sunny spring day, even the meanest streets have charm; even the common seems cool; and hip is a state of mind, not a style purchased dearly.
In fact, the weather in New York City this winter hasn't been all that bad, compared to subzero stretches in the upper Midwest. But bleakness has been unrelenting.
Bleakness in Washington, D.C., where white hatred of a black president has driven some politicians mad. Bleakness in state capitols, where aggression against gays, against women, against the poor and against children has given an early glimpse of what could lie ahead on the national stage.
Bleakness overseas, as Russia annexes Crimea and its soldiers mass along the Ukrainian border, as African states like Uganda and Nigeria unleash primitive reprisals against gays, as corruption drags down prosperity in China and South Korea, and as repressive regimes in Syria and North Korea slaughter their own people.
Bleakness in prosperous corners, as income inequality, greed and arrogance gallop wildly in celebration of self. Bleakness in homes, where joblessness and underemployment, debt, mortgage woes, and despair are now endemic and yet barely on the radar of a paralyzed government.
This bleakness doesn't end as spring arrives. But spring's victory over gray and drab, followed by Easter's victory over death, followed by warmth's victory over cold, offer a shred of hope after a season when hope has seemed a stretch.
I know that I have worked hard this winter to sustain a positive attitude. It would have been easy to join the chorus of helpless whining. And maybe I did join it from time to time. If so, I hope the impulse to complain will vanish with the crocus and the daffodil.
What is my point? Be of good cheer. Have hope. Winter cannot last forever, and God won't stand by as the craven and self-serving destroy human lives.
We aren't in this alone. I must always remember that. Whether or not my street sparkles, I am not in this alone.
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers