Le Printemps (1874), Claude Monet

Awaking this morning to the sound of rain, I finally accept that spring has come to stay here in Ohio. For weeks, nay months, we’ve been in this strange in-between state where one day would be sunny and 75°; but the next we’d be reaching for woolens and boots following a nighttime snow-shower.

During these springtime weeks, I always feel a bit uncomfortable. Yes, I do love spring, but there’s an unsettledness that “settles” in, and I recently was wondering why. Fall I LOVE, Summer is always busy and beautiful, Winter is comfortably quiet and settled, but Spring? It’s back and forth, up and down, here one minute, gone the next…..in a word, it’s unpredictable.

Thinking about the seasons in terms of the spiritual life, I realised that each of them maps to a different sort of spiritual “place”. And springtime is that place of uncertainty, doubt, ups and downs – to put it succinctly: growth. Spring is the time where the ground is dark, wet, dirty; only to suddenly burst into the greenness of new life. It always takes me1280px-Gordale_Beck by surprise, because it seems as if you wake up one morning and everything is green where last night was shades of grey and brown. Yet, while it appeared overnight, it didn’t happen that fast. It’s a long slow process that begins as winter fades away; the trees slowly thaw and even though it’s hidden, there is growth. Growth in secret. Under the ground the seeds are sprouting, working, so that they can break through the heavy earth. It does take work. And time.

Watching Nature taught me two things: Spring is uncomfortable; and….growth is often hidden.

450px-Spring_2005It’s uncomfortable, because it reminds me of those things in my own life that are struggling to come back to life; or the seeds I’ve planted that need to finally bear fruit. In winter, I can curl up with a book and some tea; the world is sleeping….resting, and I can too. But in Spring, all of creation – this glorious Earth we call home – proclaims: “rise from sleep, move beyond the old growth of the past year, put out new shoots”! And that growth is not comfortable.

Not only uncomfortable, but it’s often hidden. Even from ourselves. We strive for detachment in this area, or patience in that; yet all we can see are the same failings repeated, the same sodden ground that looks beyond rescue. Yet, just like the seed under the ground, we must not give up – because growth is hidden, and one of these days the seed we’ve been watering, nourishing in our secret hearts will break through the ground and spring to life.

Frühlingslandschft_Aaretal_SchweizSo just for today, I’m going to try to cultivate the new life our Lord wants to see in my heart. Let it be watered by grace, fed by prayer, and grown by the free gift of the Spirit. It’s Springtime on the earth; what about in my heart? In your heart? Let us learn from the rhythms of the earth, and let Spring blossom in our hearts today!

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