Spring is a time of new life—in stops and starts. First the daffodils, tulips and hyacinth bloom. The hostas poke their shoots through the earth. Forsythia shows the world how beautiful the color yellow can be. Lilacs perfume the air. The lettuce and peas go into the garden first; we then wait for the chance of frost to end to put in beans, melon, cucumbers, squash and herbs.
I wait again for the maple trees to drop their helicopters before putting mulch on the front-yard flowerbeds. And finally, after three years, we’re getting raspberries on our lush, prickly branches.
Spring takes patience. It comes slowly here in Michigan, with temptingly warm days followed by wind and snow. This year’s rains came as deluge, flooding homes and businesses across West Michigan before slowly abating. But the rains fed the land, watered an area that, last year, was in near drought conditions.
We too begin to grow, but in stops and starts. We grow physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally in small steps and large ones. Sometimes we take steps backward, only to stagger forward once again.
I’m in the midst of a diet and exercise program these days. Which is to say I haven’t had a pain-free day since Jan. 7 when I began serious exercise. It also means that some days I eat well and other days not so much. Some days I exercise and some days not. Stops and starts. But stops and starts on the way to new growth and change and a new way of life.
The lesson of Spring is that it always arrives. It comes a bit at a time, first with hints of warmth and sunlight and then with brushes of snow and cold. Bit by bit, day by day, the new life of Spring comes just as the new life we search and pray for comes one bit at a time.
We all do well to remember that life comes slowly at first, then bursts forth. Spiritual growth can move between times of great growth and times of stagnation. A new lifestyle of good food and exercise doesn’t happen immediately. Stops and starts—on the way to new life.