Spring Always Comes Again

Earlier this week a thunderstorm blew through chasing out the last of winter and leaving drops of spring scattered in her wake. It’s still cool — this is New England after all. But evidence of the world waking is sprinkled all around. Daffodils bloom and the tiniest buds blush deeply in crimson — a bit nervous about what they’ll soon reveal. The birds are beside themselves with song — singing wildly even in the rain. Everything feels giddy, bursting, on the cusp of life and warmth and newness.

This was my 11th winter in Massachusetts. Though it has taken me all eleven years to figure it out, I do believe I’m finding my way through the cold at last. Winter for me has always been about surviving, holding on, and keeping my eyes firmly shut until June. But little by little I’ve begun to understand the purpose of this necessary season.

For one thing, by summer’s end we fail to still notice the bird’s song or the shades of green or the beauty of flowers all around. We get accustomed to lovely things and winter is the perfect remedy to such lazy assumptions of unending comfort. I learn my lesson every January as I layer on my coat, gloves, hat and boots just to check the mail. I repent of taking any good thing for granted and promise to notice every leaf and bloom if spring ever comes again.

And here’s the thing I’m learning most of all — spring does always come again. However brutal and unfeeling winter may be, somehow by June you hardly remember it happened at all. What just a few weeks ago appeared dead forever now reveals life hidden and resting all along. And with all the metaphors this lively season offers, I’m reminded the same is true of hearts and lives too. Cold, barren seasons of life will eventually transition from roots deeply hidden to life bursting in blooms. What seems dead and wasted almost never is — spring always comes again.

I read recently that

The greatest pleasures are those born of labor and investment.

Karen Swallow Prior

Indeed, if we never walk through winter, we will never truly appreciate the sweet antithesis of such barren seasons. I notice spring because I have walked through winter. We best notice life after we have tasted death.

Today I walked around outside with my kids soaking up the warmth of sunshine on my back. I’m thankful for spring, but most of all I’m thankful that seasons change and hope buoys us ever on. We often say that nothing lasts forever in reference to the good but the same can be said of the hard stuff too. Nothing lasts forever, not even a New England winter.

Labor Pain

It snowed again today. A friend of mine lives in Canada and told me once that waiting for spring feels like a woman waiting for the birth of a child. You wait and anticipate and have a date in mind when you think the journey should be done and that baby in your arms. You go into labor, or so you think, only to have everything stop…and you wait some more.DSC_1369

Spring, like babies, comes when it good and well pleases and not a moment before. But the waiting, the hoping, the thinking you’re almost there to have everything stop and start again—

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12 (ESV)

Life lately has felt a little like labor pains. I know there are good things on the other side. I know the wait will be worth it. But sometimes it’s hard to keep believing in all I can’t yet see—spring, answers, new life in dead places, fruit for the labor that right now only blisters my fingers and leaves me weary in hoping for a someday harvest.DSC_0732

Like a woman waiting for a baby, I know false labor doesn’t mean the baby’s not coming—it just means the baby’s not coming right now. I’ve felt those false pains before and can assure you that all the promises in the world that your baby will still come and soon—just not today—don’t make you feel any better in the moment. False labor hurts just like real labor and the waiting hurts even more.

But this is where we live this side of heaven—in the now but not yet. We carry eternity with us every single day but cannot yet enter into it. We taste it, get glimpses of what is and what’s to come—but the satisfaction of true fulfillment is not yet in our grasp. We are always waiting for something east of Eden.IMG_20170501_164343_623

Questions unanswered. Problems unsolved. Planting seeds for the promise of life and growth tomorrow in exchange for sore backs and weary hearts today. We can get around a lot of things in this life but we can’t get around time. We can’t make it move faster or slower. We can’t hold onto it or demand it leave us alone. We are made for eternity and a different kind of time but are bound here in mortality for a little while and must learn to submit to the seasons of this life—both in nature and our sojourning hearts.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9 (ESV)

Today, I wait for spring. I wait for the fruit of my labor. I know I will get answers and someday I will see all of this waiting from the other side. Just like I hold my babies and think a million times over how they were worth the waiting and the labor (both false and real). So someday I will look back on a weary season of sore backs and blistered hands and know the harvest at my feet was worth the labor and the waiting.

We journey on. Let us not grow weary, friends.dsc_1324