I love being outside in this Spring-like weather. The sun is warm; the wind is gentle. The daffodils are swaying gracefully, their movements choreographed by invisible currents. The crabapple tree is in full bloom, looking (from a distance) like it’s adorned with cotton balls. The skinny branches on the almond tree, which just a few weeks ago looked like small sticks, are hardly visible now that their buds have opened, revealing the beauty within each tiny one.
As I stroll along, the sight and smell of freshly-cut grass make me smile. Even the dog trots happily alongside me, looking as if she’s smiling, too. We stop frequently so that I can photograph the surprises I’m finding everywhere--for example, the buds on the Japanese Magnolia (aka "Tulip Tree").
As I walk along enjoying the warmth, I think about the bitter cold we’ve experienced this winter. Some days were just “too raw” to venture out at all. Freezing temperatures. Bone-chilling, wet winds. Clouds so dark and heavy that mid-day seemed like late afternoon.
But now that the weather is nice, I look longingly out the windows every day, waiting eagerly for my time outside. A writer friend adds to that longing when she says, “Go outside to write! Don’t you dare stay inside on a day like today.”
Perhaps my delight in this beautiful season helps me recognize the truth in these words of David L. Weatherford. “We enjoy warmth because we have been cold. We appreciate light because we have been in darkness. By the same token, we can experience joy because we have known sorrow.”
Thankfully, there is a cycle to ALL of life, not in the seasons alone. When we’re experiencing a “long, dark night of the soul,” we know that light will come into our lives again. And when it does, oh, how we welcome it. When we’re feeling fearful, we know that calm will come. And when it does, oh, how we welcome it.
While thinking about such cycles, I reflect on these words of Abraham Lincoln. “In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all, and it often comes with bitter agony. Perfect relief is not possible, except with time. You cannot now believe that you will ever feel better. But this is not true. You are sure to be happy again. Knowing this, truly believing it, will make you less miserable now. I have had enough experience to make this statement.”
It comforts me to know that great persons, including Biblical writers, experienced cycles in their faith, just as you and I do. For example, one of the psalmists wrote, “When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel…” (Psalm 73:21-24a, New International Version).
No matter what cycle we’re in, God loves us and is with us! And even though we may feel we’ve been in the harsh grip of Winter for a long time, we can know that it won’t last forever. We will experience a Springtime! Wait for it! Watch for it!
Bud on our Crabapple tree.