Every winter some part of me falls asleep, dulled by the cold shroud of air from parking lots to buildings and back again.
Snow before Christmas is magical; snow until May makes me feel as listless as a small talking beast in Old Narnia. Aslan will come again someday. Hopefully before we wither away or are turned to stone.
And every spring, without fail, something rouses the dreary stiffness awake. The morning air will carry a touch of warmth, or my eye may suddenly notice shy patches of green under the dry, thatched grass.
My common sense laughs at me then — of course the turn was coming! — but it’s quickly overtaken by a rush of joy and memories of all the Springs and Summers past, right down to my childhood days of sailing downhill on a bicycle under dogwood trees.
Today, as photographs of chest-high snow come winging in from the East, I’m looking out on the warmest day in recent memory. After brunch at a local spot, we let the girls run in a patch of grass beside the building, and Little Jo laughed with abandon as she ran in circles.
The grass was prickly, and crackled under their shoes, but all of us basked: the girls in the warm, open air; Y and I in the sound of their play.
At home I open to a Psalm that somehow doesn’t sound like a Psalm today, with its imagery of rock badgers and storks in fir trees:
You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
and plants for man to cultivate,
that he may bring forth food from the earth
and wine to gladden the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine
and bread to strengthen man’s heart.
– Ps. 104:14-15, ESV
It’s a breath of Spring, in January.
It won’t last long; already the forecast for tomorrow looks ominous, and our frozen fingers will soon be fumbling with coat zippers again.
But today is a gift, a whisper and a hint of things to come — like a mother whose newborn smiles for the first time, like an old believer in the resurrection watching the lithe movements of children at play. Like faith: that “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
I receive it freely, and am reminded that even my stolid soldiering in gray seasons is made possible by provided breaths of grace.
He feeds me with hope, a gift greater than prosperity, and it’s often enough to renew my strength for the journey, enough to restore my sense of where Home lies.
Enough, even, to make music out of a Spring day in January as my gift in return.
These all look to you,
to give them their food in due season.
When you give it to them, they gather it up;
when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
when you take away their breath, they die
and return to their dust.
When you send forth your Spirit, they are created,
and you renew the face of the ground.
– Ps. 104:27-30, ESV.