Spring: The Hope of New Life

Welcome Spring! For me the early signs of spring are always exciting and hopeful. Everything that had died starts to come to life again. Growing up in Indiana, winters were bitter cold, and I remember how I couldn’t wait to be able to go outside without a jacket and climb our crabapple tree, which would bloom with beautiful white flowers in the spring. (Yes, that’s me in the photo!) In Nashville we got a taste of Midwest winter in mid-February with ice, snow and temperatures dropping to the single digits. This came on the heels of perhaps the most melancholy of winter months in many years, as the skyrocketing cases of COVID-19 and the cooler temperatures kept us more isolated indoors. We were desperately ready for spring- and not just for the warmer temperatures, but for signs of hope and new life.

I find it appropriate that the anniversary of the pandemic coincides with the vernal equinox: meaning equal light and dark. As the earth continues its journey around the sun, light will overtake the darkness. Is that ever the encouragement that we need right now! Perhaps this whole past year has felt more like a period of constant winter for our souls. March of 2020 was unlike any other month of any other year since I’ve been alive. I reflected on it in my first blog post, which was shared in early April 2020. I offered the suggestion that just maybe in the slowed pace of the world we could find times of solitude to embrace our vulnerability and allow our souls to be shepherded and healed. After all, the natural order of the world involves light AND dark. During the dark and cold winters it appears that the earth lies dormant, but it is not passive. It is merely resting before the awakening of the soil and the birth of new life. On a spiritual level, our souls also need sacred space for rest and reflection to see what things we may need to leave behind, and what new inspirations we would like to see come alive. 2020 gave us plenty of opportunity for such personal growth if we were willing to see it as that. As disappointing as the year was, I’ve heard a number of people tell me that they discovered some hidden treasures of doing life during the pandemic that they don’t want to leave behind: slowing down to be more present with family, getting outdoors to exercise and more time of solitude to name a few.

At this time last year, we didn’t know just how long this period of slowing down, cancellation of major events and loss of face-to-face contact would last.  Now we’re still wondering if life will ever return to “normal” as we knew it before, and yet we are seeing some signs of hope. Vaccines have become much more widely available, cases are going down, businesses are opening up with precautions, and some family members are hugging each other for the first time in over a year. This is good news! The other thing I love about spring is that it points to Easter.  As I write this, it is Holy Week for those who celebrate the Christian tradition. During this last week of Jesus’ life on earth he raised Lazarus from the dead, was betrayed by one of his friends, was arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, was sentenced to death unjustly, and then died the most humiliating and excruciating death…but that wasn’t the end. The sky went dark and for those who followed Jesus, it must have felt like the most dark and hopeless times…until on the third day, the stone of the tomb was rolled away. There is death AND resurrection of new life! “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5 (ESV).

As you enter this season of light overcoming darkness, I encourage you to pause and reflect upon what it is in your life that needs to come alive, or what it is that makes you come alive. I will close with one of my favorite quotes: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman.

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