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Bearing Fruit in Winter

Sophomore Kendra Clark offers a gentle nudge to action in your faith life through the symbols of winter in this first blog entry of 2014.

There is something markedly transitory about winter.

I grew up in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado, where winter is a slow-moving spin of frozen aspen trees and breath that rises in clouds from chapped lips. At three years old, I was wearing skis atop the windswept peaks of Colorado’s white-crested mountains.

I chose Santa Clara for a number of compelling reasons: its small size and intimate feel, the outstanding academics, and the Jesuit values. Oh, and its optimal location, mild weather, and undeniable beauty didn’t hurt either. It was also far from home. Far enough to be something of great interest to me; exoticism—no matter how slight—is compelling to most.

The face of a California winter, however, looks nothing like the face of a Colorado winter.  As a sophomore at SCU, I have found myself, for the second year in a row, surprised at the way winter appears in California. Of course I didn’t expect cold weather; still, even with preparation, nothing can be done to avoid the astonishment of a new experience. Winter here…is weird.

In Colorado, snowflakes and icy roads are tangible indicators of winter’s presence. The mornings are chalky gray and the crystalline nights are studded by Orion’s Belt. Everywhere, winter shows its pale face.

In the Silicon Valley, San Jose’s light pollution hides winter’s brightest stars most nights. The days are shorter, yes, but aside from the slight drop in temperatures, winter in Northern California is not much different than autumn.

However, even without such stark reminders of the season, I have found that, no matter my location on the globe, winter is a time of looking forward. We are always stretching—waiting for Christmas, planning for the New Year, crawling towards spring. We are making resolutions, exercising in anticipation of ‘bikini season,’ and hoping for a warmer forecast. This time of transition does not exclude our faith lives. Like the frozen aspens of Colorado, it is easy for us to stand by and see our faith lives remain bare in the winter. We may make resolutions to grow in faith, to practice prayer more in the New Year, or maybe to participate in service more. Even so, this is a hopeful forecast. And although California winters are mild, I have encountered the same kind of attitude among the students at SCU, as well as in my own faith life. It seems as though I allow myself to become cold to my faith, remaining bare when I should be actively pursuing growth.

This is my challenge. Allow winter to be the transition that it is. Embrace change. Embrace newness. But don’t wait. As an English and Philosophy double major, I can appreciate literary genius and witty quotes more than most. The brilliant Ralph Waldo Emerson was quoted saying, “We are always getting ready to live but never living.” Indeed, this is my proposal. Stop waiting for spring to come so that your tree may bear fruit. Instead, find the sunlight in your own life. Seek nourishment and bear fruit now.

Winter, whether it be frozen or sunny, is a call to action. Faith should have us make resolutions every day to grow in faith, to pray more, to serve more, to live now.

Kendra is a sophomore English and Philosophy major from Denver, Colorado with a passion for poetry, Catholicism, Asian food, and alternative music (not necessarily in that order).