For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is head in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance.
Song of Solomon 2:11
Finally, it’s spring—a much-needed change for all of us here in rainy Bellingham, Washington. In spite of our wet weather, spring remains a season symbolic of great change: from darkness to light, from death to life. For us in the northern hemisphere, the natural transition from winter to spring is augmented by the liturgical transition from Lent into Easter.
Winter, for most of human history, has naturally reminded us of our depravity. We awake, often in the darkness, to find ourselves in an inhospitable climate. We are consigned to our homes for warmth. It is difficult or impossible to harvest most crops. Winter forces us to rely upon the provisions we have acquired in the warmer seasons as we look forward. Though many of these anxieties have been quelled by our modern systems of production, winter still reminds us today that nature is powerful and often unforgiving—the blizzards affecting much of the East Coast this year come to mind.
Like the cold, harsh winter, Lent allows us to better understand our utter dependence on God’s providence and grace. For 40 days, we are invited into constant prayer and fasting, reminding us of the ways in which our sin separates us from God. Lent is thus a season of hope as we attempt to pick up our crosses and look forward to the resurrection of our Lord. The weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
This spring, we are blessed to be able to celebrate at least three joyous occasions: First, we experience the transition from winter into spring’s beauty. Second, we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. And third, we welcome a new pope, Francis. There truly is much to celebrate in these next coming weeks.
I wanted to leave you with a quote from St. Paul of the Cross pertaining to the upcoming season. As you begin to (hopefully) spend more time outdoors, meditate on these words:
Give yourself the rest you need. When you are walking alone, listen to the sermon preached to you by the flowers, the trees, the shrubs, the sky and the whole world. Notice how they preach to you a sermon full of love, of praise to God, and how they invite you to glorify the sublimity of that sovereign Artist who has given them being.
Let us enter this spring with great joy, with hearts open to the love of God that surrounds us through his creation.