There’s so much LIFE to be seen and heard during a Wisconsin spring! Lawns have transformed from tan to Irish green. Birds are busy building nests and are having feeding frenzies, storing up to nurture their hatchlings. Horses finally have pastures to run and fresh grasses to eat. And the flowers! Trees are budding, near ready to bloom. Yellows and oranges of daffodils, a rainbow of tulips, and sweet smelling purple, pink, and white hyacinths are in full display. Deer are delivering fawns. All this splendor comes after the darkest and coldest of days. Winters are long, snow gets deep, rains seem never-ending from March through April, and then, in May—the earth pops open and new life begins.
So it is with the whole circle of life. Seasons come and seasons go. Although I love living in Wisconsin most of the year, I get weary in March and April. The whole earth looks depressed, feels heavy laden, cries for warmth and sun. When will the rain stop? Will we ever see the sun again? Hope is hard.
And sometimes hope is hard for the soul to hold.
Right now, I’m in a season of spring on the inside. I feel pregnant with life growing and I actually feel a glow. But oh how I remember the long, cold winters—the days of dark, wondering if I would ever see the sun again and feel warm rays thawing a frozen soul.
I remember my years as a therapist. One thing—one word—I came to understand as essential in helping others cope and grow. Hope. We all need hope. We need something to look forward to, something to hold onto in the dark and dreary crying days of life when we can’t see beyond the heavy, looming clouds. When we’re raining on the inside and the days of wet seem like endless drowning, we need hope. We need to know there’s a spring on the way. We need to know there is life beyond death—right here, right now, in the land of the living where others walk with smiles and we walk downcast. When is OUR spring coming? We want to know.
Every end of March, I feel it strong. My insides start screaming and I feel full force need to migrate—to fly southwest and soak up some sun, to soak up some hope of a new season coming. And I do. I get on a plane and fly to Arizona each year, just as the daffodils send green shoots through soggy dark soil. They beckon me back with hope. In just a few short weeks, drab will bloom color-full. There’s always hope, the earth tells me.
But sometimes we can’t see beyond the moment, beyond our difficult and painful circumstances. And sometimes the endings aren’t happy here on earth. Sometimes it looks as though God has left us alone, not caring that we suffer and moan and plead to be done. Let’s face it. Life is difficult. And sometimes life is beyond comprehension painful. Where is love then? Where is hope then?
I suppose what matters most is keeping our hearts and minds and souls planted firmly in what matters most. If we want to have hope, we must have hope in something beyond this life because this life doesn’t promise eternal rose gardens in full bloom. This life has seasons. This life has sweet and sour, gorgeous and hideous, rapture and disgust. This life—if this is all there is—where is hope really?
I find that when I anchor my hope where hope belongs—in the eternal God and His kingdom coming full—I find hope for the day and my days become beautiful—maybe only in part, but still beautiful. Because even in the darkest of days, even when I’m crying rain on the inside, there is still beauty around. There’s always a bit of heaven on earth to bring a glimpse of hope that such beauty WILL spread and that, one day, such incomprehensible beauty we only just taste in the present will consume all the dark, all the hideous, all the painful not-of-God present.
And our God? Our God is so good that even the cold and the dark and the rains of life come together for good. All that blooms here in Wisconsin needs cold and dark and wet seasons to store up and rest and send forth new life. Daffodil and tulip and hyacinth bulbs are plunged deep into dark and cold earth, waiting for spring waters to shoot up green and open vibrant color. Trees shed and become bare because cold winters would freeze them dead if they held onto their leaves. Trees must let go. Pastures need rest to rejuvenate. Future hooves are coming and pastures must be strong.
If God knows how to care for the land and the creatures through all the cycles of life, does God not know how to pull us through our soul seasons? Where ever we find ourselves this day, whether in deep, dark winters or full-sun springs, God is with us working, loving. God holds onto us even when we have a hard time holding onto hope. And God never wastes anything. Even frozen inner winters and rainy soul springs have value. They might not be our favorite seasons, but they have value for our spirit. Each season has its own beauty and purpose. And spring comes inevitably with new life—for those who wait in hope, even when we can’t yet see or feel.