A Breath of Spring

I love spring, that time of year when a dull, bleak landscape puts on a new outfit. Bareness gives way to an almost imperceptible green. Daffodils show sunny faces among brittle leaves. The dead-looking sticks of the hydrangea bush are suddenly dotted with specks of growth. Birds chirp a tune—a one-note drone alternating with a full-range melody, asking and answering.

Some years, spring seems to burst forth overnight. You wake to bright green everywhere and a profusion of blossoms. Other years, spring is more deliberate, taking longer to put on its verdant coat and show off with colorful accessories.

Our lives are like that, too. For some, a difficult season of life suddenly gives way to fresh possibilities. You wake to a resolution, answers, and a clear path forward. But for others, spring is slow in coming. You long for renewal and refreshing, but your life landscape remains gray and colorless. So how do you find a breath of spring, a ray of hope, when life still seems bleak and harsh?

Prepare for what will surely come – Gardeners know that preparing for spring is important. Even though the garden seems dead, they must look beyond appearances. They remove dead leaves from beds, spray for weeds, and nourish the soil. You can make similar preparations by working toward removing old attitudes and perceptions that may be holding you back. Stop assuming things will happen a certain way or people will respond as they always have. Expect change and give it a chance to happen.

Look for hidden signs of new growth – I’m always amazed when a plant that looks withered and totally dead suddenly revives. But often you have to search for new growth because it isn’t immediately apparent.  Last fall, I placed a pot in the corner of the deck under a table. The plant it contained was clearly dead, but I didn’t want to take the time to empty it. A few days ago, I turned the corner and was surprised to see a lush, green, flowering plant in the forgotten pot. Although the plant looked dead last fall, the roots were deep and the soil loose. If I had looked closely at the plant in late winter, I would have seen signs of growth near the base of the plant. Its location in the corner of the deck shielded the plant for biting winds and harsh weather.

Perhaps you’ve been through a season of difficulty, a time when you felt the need to shelter yourself because your spirit was wilted. Now is the time to check for new growth, for healing and restoration. Examine yourself. Are your roots deeper? Have you grown in ways you didn’t imagine?

Expect renewal – Often we give up on a plant before it’s had time to prove its worth. Several years ago, a man in my neighborhood stopped me while I was walking and asked me to take some of his iris bulbs. He was thinning his beds and thrust the extra bulbs toward me, almost demanding that I take them. I went back to his house later that day and he gave me three boxes of bulbs. I didn’t want that many, but thanked him and took them home. The bulbs sat in my garage for several weeks, feeling like a burden, until I finally planted them in several beds in my backyard. The first year, they were non-producing. Many looked limp and lifeless. The second year, two or three of the plants bloomed. This year, there are more buds than I can count, and in a few days, the beds will be awash with color. Last fall, I thought of digging up the bulbs and throwing them into the edge of the woods. Now that spring is here, I’m glad I waited.

Often giving up seems easier than waiting to see what the next season brings. You may feel you’ve tried everything to move beyond your current situation or circumstances and that nothing will ever be different. Don’t give up. The same God who created the lush vegetation and brilliant hues of spring created you. He cares about you and knows you better than anyone else. Trust him. Look for ways he is at work in your life, helping you heal and grow. Expect renewal and confidently take the next step.

“For the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers are springing up and the time of the singing of birds has come. Yes, spring is here.” (Song of Solomon 2:11-12 TLB)

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