Song of Solomon 2:11-13
For the winter is past, and the rain is over and gone. The flowers are springing up, and the time of singing birds has come, even the cooing of turtledoves. The fig trees are budding, and the grapevines are in blossom. How delicious they smell! Yes, spring is here! Arise, my beloved, my fair one, and come away.
In the northland, spring is longed for like a long-lost love. After months of rain, sleet, ice, snow, slippery roads, blizzard warnings, school (and church) closings and grey skies, we watch for any indication that winter will eventually end. We know it will, of course, but we feel like it might not.
The first day of spring falls in March--the 20th, this year. What a tease. For us March is often one of the worst months of winter, complete with at least one whopping snowstorm.
But around this time we start talking about tulip and daffodill bulbs and crocuses, and we think about packing away our sweaters and parkas and mittins. We don't do it, but we think about it. My husband is already telling me that the house is stuffy and that I have to open the windows. (It is 35 degrees outside.)
The first robin is greeted with whoops of delight at my house. I haven't seen one yet, but one of my church ladies showed me a picture she snapped on her digital camera. "Proof!" she crowed happily. This one isn't it. Note the green leaves, and no snow. This robin must be in a warmer climate.
Last Friday I slopped across our muddy church parking lot to the back door. (Another sure sign of Spring...mud in the church parking lot.) But the sun shone warmly on my face and the sky was a lovely blue. The thermometer hovered in the mid 40s. And then I heard one of those unmistakable signs of spring in the Upper Midwest. Cooing. There they were, a pair of mourning doves, standing together on the side lawn. The male is larger and darker than the female.
The first time I hear doves in spring I always think of the passage above. The sound of doves says sunny days, green grass, flowers, leafy trees, all are coming.
This morning I looked out my kitchen window and saw that the pussy willow bush is in bud. It is always the first thing in my yard to brave the elements by pushing forth some new signs of life. I immediately popped outside to see close up, padding across the rainy deck in my bare feet. No matter that today the sky is grey, snow is forcast for much of Wisconsin, or that right now my sweater feels comfy in my chilly office.
Spring will come.
The same is true of our spirits. Winter comes to us in many ways: lonliness, sadness, discontent, disappointment, frustration...but the promise of Solomon's song is real. The spiritual seasons change, just as surely as the physical ones do. Not as regularly or predictably, I admit, but change comes, nonetheless.
It's been a bit of a dark time for me. Has it been so for you? Watch with me for the signs of God's spiritual spring.