Tomorrow’s high temperature is 18. 18! If you know me, you know that I have issues with the winter. But more than the winter pulling me down, I think the haunting of spring might be worse. There’s a flower store on my walk to and from work in Brooklyn that puts potted hyacinths out in February. February! Apparently they don’t know that such an essential smell of spring messes with my Seasonal Affective Disordered mind. It is impossible for that scent not to travel directly inside of me and make me truly believe, for a moment, that the beloved season that ends winter has come. But then I look at my ankle length, down coat and the wool mittens threaded through its arm holes. Blast.
The spring is in front of me, but I continually refuse to believe that it will actually come. I have no patience, especially in March. One of my best friends from high school and I used to go hiking every March 1st wearing shorts, declaring to our friends that spring had finally come. We searched for tiny flowers as proof and clung to them until real spring appeared sometime in mid April. Upon return from a week long camping trip in Florida to cold Oxford, Ohio, my friend and I cooked dinner on a camping stove and hung bags of oranges from our porch. It was as if I refused to trust the promise that spring would actually make its way into my life.
I recently revisited Macbeth and saw the same thing. The witches are the trickiest characters in the play to understand. They haunt Macbeth and Banquo with visions of the future and each time I read it I picture their tone differently. Sometimes I see them as strange and prophetic, sometimes haunting and crazy, mysterious or funny. Regardless how their message comes across, though, they paint a picture of future glory in front of these men. They are able to disregard the witches’ craziness for the beauty of the promise they speak: that Macbeth would be king and that Banquo would father kings.
Macbeth is completely unwilling to wait around for that day, though. Instead of letting his future wind its course, he jumpstarts it all by planning ways for it to happen by his power as soon as possible. Macbeth refused to trust in the promise. He has Banquo, among others, killed to ensure his way to the throne.
Banquo’s ghost appears at Macbeth’s dinner party, and only Macbeth can see him. We have two options here: Macbeth is either hallucinating because of all he has done or Banquo’s ghost really is there and is trying to warn Macbeth about what he is doing. I guess this is the beauty of drama—it really is up to interpretation (translation: read or see the play and tell me what you think. Seriously.) Regardless, his inability to trust in the promise is haunting him and causes even more distress.
The question of this play rings in my mind—did the witches know this would happen? Could it have happened another way? Are they the reason it happened at all? The only insight into that question I have is that the play is called the Tragedy of Macbeth. There is a lot of blood spilled and minds lost. So what’s the moral of the story? Is there ever just one?
What I see today is wanting myself to trust wholeheartedly in what I am promised in the future—heaven—and not the hallmark heaven that people talk about in bad poetry, but the heaven that is the home that my heart hears calling. I need to trust that the longing that my heart feels on so many levels will be fulfilled. One day. I’m promised the kingdom of heaven, but not given many more details about what will happen in between. But lucky for me, God isn’t a (pick one: sadistic, scary, prophetic) witch whose mood we can’t read for the life of us.
I just hope that I can begin to trust in the promise rather than taking it all into my own hands, thinking that my ideas might get me there faster.
And maybe just for now, I just need to begin to trust that winter will end and I will get to hang up my sweet coat.