It’s Spring and All Is Forgiven
By Nancy Lincoln Reynolds
I could not help but be relieved at the sight of the first purple crocus that pushed its way through the still-frosty ground next to the stonewall. As I walked past, its brilliant lavender and yellow spectacle surprised me. Especially since only the day before another white coverlet had tucked it in. But there it was, heralding the arrival of Spring, with the silent voice of a toddler at dawn, “I’m ready to get up!”
The Chesapeake Bay area had a fickle, taunting Winter this year with its low temperatures and sporadic snows. Some places saw several inches of significance, while only miles away there was not so much. For a time it seemed we would never get out of Winter because the storms kept coming while jubilant weather forecasters prophesied them again and again. They came so often that the usual undercurrent of excitement in emptying grocery shelves under threats of two to four inches of snow waned and was replaced by grumbling. We were in “the grip” for a long time and not too pleased about it. Attitudes became as hardened as the frozen ground.
Winter has a way of challenging us, and we all respond differently. Some hunker down in home settings with warm fires, books and comfort foods. Others, challenged by the cold, set their jaws in determination and choose to go on with their routine. Still others take on the season with bravado, metaphorically and literally, skiing over the frozen blight in cavalier fashion. Responses vary depending upon temperament and circumstance … and whether or not one has a choice.
There are many who cannot choose a response to Winter’s onslaught and are simply compelled to keep going. These are the homeless, the hungry, the sick or mentally ill, the unemployed — the ones who struggle with existence regardless of season. Their plights are among the casualties of mortality, and they, like we, live right here. Winter also comes in forms other than season, forms which may plunge us into a surreal darkness when change, loss or grief take its toll on our lives. We all must brace ourselves for cold reality. None of us is immune. This is one of the insights of Winter: Snow falls indiscriminately upon all of us and, at least for a time, its whiteness conveys the appearance of equity.
The story is told of a tradesman who found that a trusted employee had been stealing from him. He quickly filed charges against him and the man was found guilty and sent to prison. However, when the man was finally released, to his amazement he learned that during his time in prison his employer had paid his usual wages to his wife and children, and that his job was his once more. “We can start afresh,” his employer told him. “All is forgiven.”
“All is forgiven.” That was my impulse toward Winter at the sight of the purple crocus. My previous condemnation of nature was melting away as I forgave Winter for its effect on me. I shifted from a begrudging determination to just press on through another day, to an eagerness to anticipate newness and beginnings. Some find Winter to be what it is in nature, a time for inner growth and rejuvenation. It’s an opportunity to step back and even hibernate, only to return with renewed energy and growth. The loving creation of Spring is like this in its promise of forgiveness and starting over.
Just as snow is indiscriminate, so is the blossom that heralds Spring. Even before the thaw of the last frost, a bright purple crocus pops up and offers its name, “Hope.” It presents itself in the oddest spaces and is offered to all of us, regardless of circumstance. We may search for it or be surprised by it, but it always comes.
Nancy is the associate pastor of Woods Presbyterian Church in Severna Park and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org