|Photo by Jack Pearce|
This is my favorite time of year. The daffodils have struggled up through the frosty ground and survived the March snowstorm. They are yellow, warm, like the sun.
Today, uncharacteristically, I wake up early enough to go for a run. I am ambitious this morning and make my way up the Blue Ridge Parkway until I can see a panorama view of the Smokies. The lushness of the foliage has not yet appeared, and the mountains appear brown, empty. To the careless eye, we are still in the stark winter. The trees are covered with barely discernible buds. If I squint, I can see the palest of green and pink and orange on the branches.
In the early light, the sky is tinged with rose.
The tiny buds reach into my heart, every year, without fail. I love these first weeks of spring, I think, because this moment of budding hope is the spiritual reality of most of my days. There is an inkling of aliveness, something new stirring beneath the surface, a tiny growth that can only be seen by the watchful eye.
Like the broken life I live, waiting for the in-breaking of the kingdom of God.
As a perfectionist, and a bleeding heart, I am always noticing the broken, wintry scars on our world. Some days (read: yesterday) I fail to go running and fail to write and fail to call the friend I promised to call, and instead I take a nap for two hours. I use words to tear down those I love. And the wintry scars are my own unrealized dreams, my failure to live up to the me I want to be.
On my better days, I listen to someone's brave story, or pray deep in my soul for healing, or sing for peace . I give everything I can give to a student, tell her she's smart, talk about dreams and careers, and then leave knowing she still won't go to college. The scars then are the cold hearts and the unjust systems and the emptiness of our efforts.
But here's the thing: underneath the coat of snow, there are seeds germinating, life flowing into the branches, love returning to paint the sky red, and it is my whole life's hope, and I am fearfully joyful: terrified and amazed all at once. This daffodil opening, this pastel green tide spreading, this tiny orange bud appearing--it is early spring in the world. It is a kind word from a friend on a teary day, it is a home opened to a stranger, it is a woman healing from abuse, it is a chance to start again, it is God, it is new creation, it is transformation, it is resurrection.
Can it really be here, squirming to emerge?
I leave you with my very favorite story in the whole world, which is a story of a tiny bud of fearful hope in early spring:
Very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, the women went to the tomb...They saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, "Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised, he is not here..."
So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. (from Mark 16)And a prayer for spring: May we not be afraid to hope for all things alive, all things new.