It seems like everywhere I go, I hear talk (translate, grumbling, grousing, and general whining!) about the cold, the snow, the wind, the absence of spring. I try to be polite, I nod, I murmur, I smile. But inwardly I have things to say, responses, comebacks. Tonight I indulge myself. I speak my mind. I make reply.
My first reply is, seriously, why take it so seriously? It's been March, now it's April! This is what the weather is like in this region of the country at this time of year. It's fickle, capricious, unpredictable - a flibbertijibbit, a will-o'-the-wisp, a clown....oh, wait, that's Marie in the Sound of Music, but the description still works. This is nothing new, this is what it's like here. You know that, you've lived here forever.
Another response I contemplate sometimes is, "let me give you some real problems to worry about." Look at the lives of people around you. Kids are watching their homes disintegrate as their parents choose addictions over offspring; older people are trying to figure out how to pay for their medications and their heat; neighbors are ending chemo treatments because the side effects are ruining what life they have left. There are people in your world who would be happy to be able to walk out the door of their home in the morning and scrape snow off their vehicle and head to work. If they could walk. If they had a home. If they had a working vehicle. If they had a job. And that's just in your tidy North American world. That doesn't even touch on what life must be like in a squatter camp in Johannesburg, a garbage dump in Manilla, or a mountain village in Afghanistan...
On a more positive note (if you're still reading!) I want to say to all the nay-sayers, what do you mean spring isn't coming? Again, it's been March, now it's April. Spring always comes, it's almost here. And have you never read the promise,
"As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest, cold and heat,
summer and winter, day and night
will never cease. Genesis 8:22
"As long as the earth endures, seedtime..." You just need to look more closely, more carefully, more thoughtfully at the world around you. No, the forsythias aren't blooming, nor any other flowering shrubs or trees, but there are other less ostentatious signs of spring creeping into our valley. If you choose to look for them, to cherish them, these little things will change your perspective.
Once when we were walking through a particularly difficult season as foster parents, an older, wiser caseworker commented, "Be thankful for the little things, because sometimes that's all there is." The grammar of that sentence troubles me a bit, but the deep truth it contains has comforted and carried me through many challenging days. (I"ll probably need it tomorrow.) So, to help you see that spring is coming, I've compiled a list (how I love a list!) of the less spectacular but nonetheless reliable signs of spring. Don't expect daffodils and robins. I'm talking about the overlooked, under appreciated, easily ignored guideposts that point confidently forward to warmer, greener days.
Mud means snow is gone;
this mud holds a fawn's footprints.
I wonder if his mother ever gets tired of muddy feet?
Moss is winter's only ground greenness,
but these sprouts are brand new.
You must look closely to see them,
and risk your knees to damp and mud,
but the green is so fresh your eyes can feel it.
The pasture shows patchy green,
and far distant trees still stand
Close at hand,
twigs gain color and
the thorn tree boasts
blood red buds.
Shades of brown,line upon line,
say, "the mud is gone,
and the green will come." Welcome.
Great God of small things, have mercy on me.
Help me to see, help me to believe.
I don't want to be an April fool.