It is, absurdly, over 70 degrees Fahrenheit today in my neck of the woods.
This is an anomaly. It’s still February, and at this time last year my husband was driving me to work because we had six inches of snow on the ground. The groundhog predicted six more weeks of winter for us only just recently. And yet here I stand, watching robins peck around for worms in my backyard while doves coo from their perches nearby.
It seemed foolish not to go out, so I did – up to the ridge where I like to hike and take photographs.
Many people hike the ridge. I live in an area where people are generally friendly and relatively polite, so it’s not unusual to get a “hi” or a “good morning” or a wave or a nod when I encounter someone on the trail. Still, we all leave each other mostly to ourselves: we know that we all have a purpose in mind, and so those brief exchanges occur even as we’re already walking away from each other in opposite directions.
Except for today. Today, everyone was exceptionally chatty.
“What a morning!” a woman announced as she rounded the bend in front of me. She was huffing and carrying two hand weights, but she was beaming. “Look at that sun!”
Another couple down the trail stopped to inform me that they were pretty sure they had seen a deer just ahead and that, if I was quiet enough, I might be able to spot it. “A doe, I think.” said the man. “But still, a deer!”
And on it went. Passersby exchanged brief “hi”s for hearty exchanges on the weather: “Seventy! Can you believe it?” “It’s rainy this week, but I’ll take it.” “If this is February, give me winter every day!”
I couldn’t help a smile, because I was feeling it too. Yes, the trees are still mostly bare–but they’re budding. And yes, the wind on the ridge is still exceptionally cutting–but the sun is warm. Dried leaves dance through forest clearings, but the air is rich with the scent of wet warm soil. Chipmunks and squirrels are rustling through the underbrush and the woodpeckers are out in force.
It’s spring. Or at the very least it sure feels like it.
And that sensation – it’s spring! spring is here! – is infectious. Smiles are brighter and wider. Everyone around me is palpably excited. You can feel humanity stirring, just a little, as though from a long sleep. Because I think deep inside all of us God has placed a recognition of what that means: the budding of life and hope, the beginning of something new, light after darkness.
I hope that Christians don’t lose that sense of giddiness and possibility.
Spring is coming. It’s coming! Right now, in the Lenten season, we are in that poised moment of solemn waiting and reflection. But at the end of it all: life. Hope. Resurrection, redemption, and rejoicing. We are wired to long for it, to sense it, to crave it. And I am glad that the turning of the seasons mirrors that journey of the soul.
I am writing this from a moment in my life where I am not at all certain of what is ahead. As an anxious person, this would typically terrify me. But somehow, right now, day by day, it’s not. I am excited. I am wondering. I am curious. Because, as I stand here on the cusp of something new, I recognize that with God the possibilities are limitless. What might happen? Something. Anything. Everything. Things I haven’t even thought of.
The same goes for you. I hope you carry the sense of possibility with you as the signs of spring start to peek through the barrenness of winter. And as we grapple with the sacrifice Christ made on the cross, let’s recognize that great love made life and redemption possible – that spring is eternally just around the corner.
Sometimes a glimpse of it is all we need to change everything.
* Header photograph for this post property of Samaritan’s Song. Please do not reproduce in any form without my express written permission.