Friday, May 16, 2014

Long Winter and Welcome Spring

 I’m sitting in the garden, enjoying the feel of sun on my back and dirt on my knees.  I know the feeling of early spring, it is when my bare feet feel grass damp and chill with dew, and when you stand in one spot for a moment the warming soil feels lovely.

Temperatures dropped and then stayed below freezing in the Midwest over the winter.  What is of course expected to be a cold season; stayed sub-zero for a longer time than normal.  The permafrost crept further through the soil as the snow and ice continued to accumulate on top; making nothing quite as welcoming as a fire in the stove and a bracing cup of hot coffee.  Small talk conversations everywhere centered on cold weather and wondering when spring would come.

February came and not surprisingly passed in winter’s chill.  March promised a thaw as the sun showed itself more, but plunged back into freezing temperatures again.  April is purported to bring showers, but I think I remember snow instead!  May has arrived though, bringing the long sought spring.

Waiting through winter’s reluctant change to spring’s entry, the green of new leaves, bright daffodil blooms, and the bright purple of the redbud trees are doubly welcome.  I find myself examining each plant to see if it has survived the prolonged cold, surveying for buds and promise of leaves.  Nothing is exempt in my search for new spring life, from tall trees to the newly planted seeds.  Waiting impatiently for blooms to appear, I expect the warmth of the sun and the moisture of the rains to have encouraged spring to occur in each plant, large and small.
Life has seasons of winter as well, sometimes seeming everlasting frigid cold without the hint of a spring has arrived to stay.  It’s those days of cold darkness (though it may be 100 degrees outside), that we are tasting bitter hurts. How do we keep our eyes toward the spring to come instead of the frozen temperatures we are currently in? Sitting in the garden this past weekend, putting seeds in the ground and anticipating seeing the new sprouts soon reminded me of how we look for heart winters to pass as well.

Winters of the heart, be it from stress, hurt, anger, grief, or a combination of them all, can chill our world as much as that accumulative snow and deepening permafrost.  We tend to pull back, hibernating in our hurts and hope for the sun to come back out.  But, in the midst of the deep winter, it is time to look at garden catalogues!  Dream of summer days, plan for gardens, and get that soil ready for new seeds.  It isn’t ignoring the winter, but it is planning ahead – looking ahead – hoping ahead – for the thaw to come.  Seeds of friendship, good changes to come, familial support, and leaning on Jesus are to be planted in a soil rich in hope, love, and the faithfulness of God. Keep watering, keep waiting and watching with anticipation and when spring comes, so do new plants of great good. 

I am looking forward to being out in the garden.  
My sun hat is ready; the seedlings are beautifully green and growing every day.  Bring on the spring!