Like so many, I've trudged through a long winter this year. Snow and ice have brought their own unique beauty, but my heart has longed for nourishing warmth, for the freedom to be outdoors without the confinement of coats, mufflers, boots, and gloves. Like this scraggly persistent geranium, I too lean toward the light and press my face against the glass.
I can get so mired in my own difficulties. To offset that, I pray daily, often hourly, for God to keep my heart and soul tender towards others and their journeys. I ask God to help me fulfill what Jesus presented as the two great commandments: to love God with all our heart and soul and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
The people in Haiti. In Japan. A friend whose husband and life-long dance partner just passed away. A mother who cares for grandchildren because their daddy--her son--is in prison. I ask God to help me pray for all these people. And I ask Him to help me have the courage to do whatever it takes to see healing in my own life, to keep hope alive when progress seems measured in 100 steps forward and 99 steps back. Help me, God, to cherish that one step forward.
God answered those prayers this morning by nudging me out the front door, to inspect my gardens. Here, after just a little elbow grease (well, maybe more than just a little), fresh flowing water will sparkle and bubble.
Here the sun has kept watch all through the winter and tells me to turn him around, so that he can bring a fresh smile.
Here, just out of sight underground, extravagantly fuchsia peonies are gathering themselves, ready to spring skyward and burst into glorious bloom.
Here, daffodils and tulips, lilies and irises, all quiver with new life and listen for their time to emerge.
And here, oh wonder of wonders, at the far end of the garden, in the spot nearest the sun, poised to get the most warmth and light of all, tiny blades of hope show their face and make me almost cry with joy.
Spring doesn't "begin" just when the growth shows. It lives inside us during any long winter of the soul, out of sight perhaps, but ever growing, through cycles of blossom and rest, renewal and flowering. We must never give up hope. Never give up believing. The day will arrive when the growth finally shows above ground and we can glory in the visible beauty. But until that day comes, the whole world needs us to keep believing. Believe in what we can't yet see, but what our heart tells us is still alive, still growing, deep inside us.