I love spring, and here in the desert it’s especially glorious. This year I’m enjoying it more than ever — the scent of our little lemon tree blossoms seems sweeter, the birdsong somehow more cheerful, the bursting forth of each new tender sprout of plant life more of a miracle. Brushes with mortality do that to a person. Seasons mirror life, or maybe I should say, life mirrors seasons. We may have summers of basking in the sun, everything right in our world, followed by autumns with beauty so spectacular it hurts our eyes — though there’s a chill that reminds us winter is coming. Then there are the winters of our lives when storms can blow out of unexpected places, so bleak and disturbing, that we are deceived into thinking spring will never come.
One winter nearly a decade ago, my husband and I lived in Salamanca, Spain. The winter was long, dreary, bitter cold, and seemingly endless. The winds blew across the plains, bringing blasts of horizontal frigid rain. We lived in center of the medieval section of the city, and the weather added a wonderful sense of “atmosphere” to the experience (especially because I was writing Distant Bells at the time, which is set in Salamanca), but winter seemed to have settled in to stay. One weekend, we rented a car and drove south a few hours to Carceres to visit some ancient ruins. The first morning, when I opened my window in the Parador — an ancient castle turned into a hotel — to peer out it was as if spring had arrived overnight! Birdsong filled the air. Flowers were blooming and the more glorious sight of all — storks were nesting in gigantic nests on the roofs of neighboring buildings! The air smelled of orange blossoms. We seemed to have magically stepped from winter into spring. It made me think of Narnia when Aslan returned.
Spring is a time of renewal. For me, it’s also a time to rejoice. Last year — after receiving two life-changing diagnoses, one life-threatening, the other neurologically progressive — it seemed that winter had settled in to stay. But spring is here! God’s love and grace and joy and peace seem somehow more precious with each passing day. He sees us through our winters. We may not always feel his presence, usually because we’re too busy worrying about the storm that whirls around us, but he is with us. In fact, he never left us — not for one “winter” moment.
There is a time for everything,
a season for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to rebuild.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones
and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to lose.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak up.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NLT