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During the cold, winter-weary days of early March I usually start to daydream about flowers. I think of the first tender, pink tulips of spring, and how they appear delicate, but are quite readily able to withstand the inevitable icy rains that fall and drench them. I think about hyacinths, or the lilacs and lilies, bold in their fragrance and fully unafraid to announce their brilliant presence in a wide-waking world. I think of the radiantly blazing poppies, frothy red and orange, flopping low to the ground with the heaviness of seed. And, most certainly, I dream of the stately sunflower in her regal crown of schoolbus yellow points.
In my imagination, I dream color, color, color! Heady perfume. And tenacity, in facing all the wilds of weather in spring- and in the summer to follow. Most of the time, in March, this is where my daydreams lead. But not this March.
This March, I am thinking of seeds. Tiny, hard kernels of seed, deep in the chilled, post-winter ground. They are small, tough, hidden. Waiting. I think about the seeds there, quiet and still, as they lie in wait through the long, dark unknown in their hardshell existence. They are alone. Cold. Short-sighted. No reason to wonder, to hope, to expect. Certainly, growth will come to them as a surprise.
Why so dismal? Why so dark?
It is because sometimes, in early March, after the long gray of February (and January, too, scrolled back through November,) when the snowstorms still dangle their frequent menace before our bedraggled spirits, it is difficult to remember flowers, or color.
There are only some who can claim the fleeting, ghosty sensation of pink, leathery petals that are to come. Only some who can grasp the small hint of lilac essence within. These are the lucky ones; these are the ones who are, perhaps, ever slightly more attune to an incremental warming change in the cold, surrounding soil. These are the lucky ones who can finger the secret hope— that life might, again, burst forth.
Others sit, still, silent in the dark. In the deep, cold alone there is little reason to think, expect, or hope for anything beyond a hardshell existence. There, the chill dirt holds us fast, and there we stay, without longing to get out, to move, or change. Being held fast in the hiding has been and become the only truth of existence. It is endlessly bleak. This is why I think of the seeds.
Along another vein, I have some friends whose seedlike anticipation of the bursting forth of life, germinates only trembling and trepidation. They want to stay dormant in the dark, immobile soil. They are weary of work and even more, of life’s troubles. Color can be brash. Scent, so cloying. Beauty is still a gift, but they worry about masks that may just be coverings. These friends, they feel forced toward growth before they are ready.
And, I guess I’m thinking about seasons. How they always come.
If we’ve an ounce of hope within us, they tend to arrive with a flourish and gleaming, all the color we’ve held out for, the glad scent taking over. Good; yes. But sometimes, after the longest dark winter, change takes us by gasping surprise, the green growth sprouting before we look twice to the sun, before we noted that the drenching rains had cracked the shell. And, when the color first seems garish in the too-fast changing world, may the light then slant warmly, and cast a gentle glow. Let it be seen and known in each circumstance, that God made the growth.
That’s how it is, always. God makes the growth. God does God’s work when we’re holding our breath with hopeful waiting, but God also makes the growth when we can’t even conceive of it. And when growth is all willy-nilly wild, that’s God, too. We’ve nothing to do but grow, and that is certainly all God’s doing. We are but the product of God’s warmth and rain, God’s gentle tending, some pruning, some fragrance behind the ears. God makes the beauty happen, and the beauty is good.
Under the hard spring soil, the seeds are all waiting. We are waiting. And, we may all be waiting differently, for different reasons. My prayer is for abounding beauty, and that it would all be for God’s glory.
Header photo by Biegun Wschodni on Unsplash
Pink Tulip photo by July on Unsplash
Sunflower photo by Quaritsch Photography on Unsplash
Oh yes yes and Amen.
Truly inspired Katie. Waiting and not even knowing you are waiting. Thank you!
Fifty years of teaching what makes writing into a place one’s spirit loves to linger within.
That’s what you create, that place. It would have been a joy, a gift to have been with you in a class. But what could I have possibly given to you? As soon as I would have seen “our bedraggled spirits” and experienced your musical phrasing, all I could have offered was “Go write. You have ‘It’.”
So beautifully evocative Katie!
So nuanced and comprehensive, capturing the recalcitrance of the reluctant and the anticipation of the hopeful.
Seeds. One of Jesus’ main metaphors, reflected in the letters and pastorals as well. From the Word/Seed at creation to the Word/Seed in Mary, to the Seed/Word implanted in us, bringing life overflowing, color, beauty, goodness and light. Hallelujah!
Katie, your writing is a gift and beautiful. Thank you for sharing it.
Oh yes. So beautiful. And God made it happen.
Thank you, dear readers, for hearing what I’ve worked so hard to communicate, and for receiving it so warmly. It is always a gift to share my writing with this excellent community.