Sunday, April 7th. Seventeen days have passed since my calendar noted the beginning of spring, and most of the people I meet are wondering if winter will ever end. Some say it will be a miracle if spring ever arrives.
I prefer to think of spring as the miracle that happens every year, however reluctantly it unfolds in some years. Whether winter departs early as it did last year, or quite late, as it has this year, I always experience the rebirth of the forests, meadows, gardens and fields with a profound sense of wonder and awe. For me, spring is always a miracle, and an indication that other miraculous forces are likely active even though our understanding of them is often dim.
How is it that the Maples and Oaks, Redtwig Dogwood and Swamp Willows, Prairie Grasses and Wildflowers, can all lose their leaves, turn a crispy tan or grey, and stand barren for half a year, go through 30 below zero winter conditions, and still come to life each spring? I suppose a botany textbook would detail most of the chemistry and biology of the onset of dormancy each fall, and the breaking of dormancy each spring in response to changing temperatures and length of day. I can’t deny that knowing this information will satisfy intellectual curiosity, but I find it much more useful to embrace each and every spring as a bonified miracle.
I believe we are better people when we nourish the sense of awe and wonder that comes with each spring until it becomes a feeling of reverence. The incredible complexities of the web of life that have evolved over the billions of years since planet earth was formed are an astounding miracle. As we allow ourselves to experience a deep reverence for all creation, we tap into a part of our being that makes us uniquely human, and better people. A powerful experience of that which is sacred enables us to look beyond ourselves, to recognize the importance of other people and the lands, waters, air and creatures of all the earth.
Despite the long delay, the signs of spring are increasing day by day. Robins have appeared in large numbers, Silver Maple Trees are swelling their buds, and geese have been heard migrating at night. Spring is coming. The forests that have appeared a dead dull grey have sap flowing and soon Pussy Willows will show their fuzzy catkins.
Take heart, the reluctant miracle is underway.