Falling for spring in a season of fear
For my entire life, whenever someone asked me to name my favorite season, I would say, without any hesitation, “fall!” There was something about the colors of the trees, the crispness of the air, the crunch of the apples. Then this year, as I sat by my window day after day from mid-March and all through April, watching the world outside as I worked from home or sipped my coffee or chatted with my family, I noticed something shifting. Spring had become my new favorite, and, although that may not seem like news to you, I find it groundbreaking, as though a new me has emerged from a cocoon along with the life just beyond the windowpanes.
From my chair, I can see most of our backyard. A rabbit munches on the tender shoots of violets pushing through the dirt in the flowerbed. A squirrel holds a prized acorn, dug up from its hiding place. Two goldfinches sit on the birdfeeder, feasting on black oil sunflower seeds, while a hopeful chipmunk waits below for the scraps. A pair of cardinals flits from one tree to another in such a playful way that it’s hard not to smile despite the relentlessness of our coronavirus isolation.
And each day, from the brown earth and the barren tree limbs, emerge signs of life, neon green, reaching for sunlight, growing at breakneck speed. I stare out the window and marvel that I’ve never noticed how much the daylilies grow in just 24 hours. Now, when many of those hours are spent within view of them, I can see their growth bit by bit, and it has transformed me. I now “get” spring. Before spring just seemed like something we had to pass through to get to the good stuff: summer and fall. Submerged now in every movement and moment of spring from my ringside seat, I am basking in the unbelievable beauty and hopefulness of a season that beckons us to stop doubting, stop fearing, stop hiding and bloom for goodness sake.
Even in the rain, and there has been a lot of it lately, a robin redbreast pecked at the ground and seemed unfazed by the drops coming down. I stood at the window and actually sang a song from my children’s preschool about how the robin in the rain is “such a saucy fellow.” It’s come to this. I’m singing rhymes about robins. Even in the wind, a hearty goldfinch clung to the feeder as it tilted sideways in a powerful gust, eating as though nothing out of the ordinary was happening. He leaned into the breeze and carried on.
Day by day, as I soaked in the scenes outside my window, I kept coming back to Scripture: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26)
If the rest of creation can return each spring, ready to take on a new cycle of life, a new stretch of uncertainty in a fickle world, with cats prowling around the feeder and suburban foxes lurking at night, shouldn’t we, too, screw up our courage and embrace the wind, the rain, the monsters under our bed, the demons in our head and lean into what life sends us?
“Be not afraid” Scripture tells us over and over, but, truth be told, we are often afraid, even if we don’t say it out loud. God asks us to trust, even when the world doesn’t make sense; to hope, even when we have every reason to despair. We are Easter people, and it is still the Easter season — a season of miracles, rebirth, resurrection and life. Look outside your window. Find one thing that sparks hope in your spirit and meditate on it. Allow it to transform your perspective and in the process transform your soul.
This column originally appeared in the May 7, 2020, issue of Catholic New York.