When Spring Doesn’t Show Up…
Or maybe I should say, “When Spring Doesn’t Show Up the way you want or expect it to… because, obviously, Spring always comes.
The problem with our tender humanity is that we form expectations. We learn from history, from our own very personal interactions with Spring across a lifetime, that Spring means certain things.
My childhood springs in upstate New York formed me to expect chill, bright days that smelled of fresh, earthy grass and made the little creek by the driveway gurgle with melting snow. It was so clear to my little elementary self, that something new was happening. Being in Holland, MI for college during springtime was heavy downpours over a flower-laden campus- a lot of dashing for cover that made me feel breathlessly alive. I remember studying abroad in South America, and how the Spring air felt completely different on my skin; it was so soft. It made me fell calm and content even in a season of change, a tiny smile always on my lips.
Spring in the midwest, where I now live, delivers innumerable delights. It delivers sun. Actually, I think I said that wrong, because sometimes after our moldering midwest winters, we have to say SUN instead. After a hundred days of a hundred colors of gray, Spring brings on blue skies, and warmer temperatures, and color. All the colors.
Beckoning, green grass, a foot tall before you blink, and frothy, green baby leaves popping out all over the shy, naked trees. Oh, the colorful trees! There are some dusted in vast coatings of silky, white petals, and others with a thousand pink pompoms. Have you seen the weighty, waxy blooms of the magnolia tree? Everywhere where you look, the freshly blooming trees are practically competing with their color.
Needless to say, Holland, MI is properly overrun with more tulips that can be counted in Spring- just batches and batches of color, spread street by festooned street. Spring here is show-stopping, vibrant victory over winter’s long death and dreariness.
Yes, Spring has taught us by our own lived history, to expect annual, resplendent revival.
But what do we do when Spring doesn’t show up?
Holland has had high temperatures only in the forties all the way until Wednesday of this week. We’ve been holding our breath, shivering in our puffy coats, and hoping Spring’s glorious sun, and warmth, and color-studded splendor will arrive in time to make a worthy difference on the tulips before the Tulip Festival next week. Tulip Time honors and celebrates the fulfillment of all that we’ve come to expect out of Spring.
But Spring hasn’t quite shown up this year the way we’ve come to expect.
Sometimes, we go through seasons of change in our own lives, that similar to a disappointing Spring, don’t turn out how we expect. Throughout a lifetime of personal growth and change, we come to recognize and even anticipate these approaching seasons of change. Things start to brighten. You can almost sense the buds about to pop into color, the tips of green shoots start to show through the hard-packed soil of your life.
And so, we expect the fledgling relationship to blossom. We expect the sought after job to be offered. We expect full, remarkable healing to occur. Maybe we even think that the vast, dark cloud of depression will thunder and pour its way out of our life, and lift to clear skies.
We learn, over the course of our days, to look for these changes, and even to expect them because of how things have happened before. The older we get, the more we live our lives with a degree of experience— experience that trains us to look for and anticipate certain kinds of change.
And then Spring doesn’t show up the way we expect it to.
It feels like the years when we wash the winter coats and put them in storage too soon, or misdiagnose the weather and take the flannel sheets off the bed three weeks too early. We’re then left moping through a series of gray, sleety days up to our elbows in our wool sweaters and teacups.
When the relationship fizzles, or the new job is offered to a different person, the health diagnosis gets more complicated, and the depression does.not.lift, that is our Spring that has not shown up as we’ve expected.
It is awful. Worse than wool sweaters and teacups up to our elbows.
In Holland, our weather shifted yesterday. We’ve been waiting for— expecting— Spring for more than a month. And suddenly, yesterday, it made its presence known.
Spring always comes.
Our history has formed us to expect the changes of Spring from year to year. Our very bodies have a learned knowledge of the smells, sounds, and feels that we can expect of Spring. And, our bodies have a learned expectation in regard to the seasons of change in our personal lives.
Spring always comes. Always. The expectations that we have for it, those are hope. And it is always hope that gets us to our best days, the expectant ones. Our deep seeded longing for, and anticipation of, change is generated by hope.
Do not let your hope die. Hope lives in us because of an eternal promise that change does come. Change always comes.
Hold tight to hope, my friends. Keep looking for change.