01 March 2013
Spring is in the air
A friend sent me a picture of his garden, which had been covered in snow for weeks. When it began to melt, he imagined that everything underneath would be bleak but was surprised to see that flowers had continued to grow. The snowdrops were the first to raise their heads.
A columnist in the Independent waxed lyrical about why these flawless little flowers give such joy: "I've long thought about this, and I don't think it is simply their pure beauty, affecting though that is. It's to do with their timing, appearing as they do when the earth is still under the lock and key of winter. They're the very first sign of something else, the Candlemas bells, an undeniable signal that the warm days will come again; and I'm sure they fill me with elation because what I am looking at, against the dead tones of the winter earth, is Hope, suddenly and unmistakably manifest in white."
Hope - we can't live without it. It is a staying power in the midst of the harshest and bleakest of winters. It sustains us in seasons when life's pressures weigh heavily.
Jesus points to the flowers when teaching his disciples not to be anxious about their own economic security but to seek God's kingdom and righteousness first: "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?" (Matthew 6:28-34).
Just look at the flowers. Their beauty and growth reflect a deep truth. The realisation that God has already taken care can bring this inner transformation from anxiety to trust.
"In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me an invincible summer", wrote the philosopher Albert Camus. But that invincibility is only within us because it's been given. The apostle Paul reflects most elaborately on the role of the Spirit in life in Romans 8: "The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace… And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you" (8:6-11).
Divine life given to us. We've received the first fruit and are sustained in hope in waiting for that what we do not yet have. God's power poured out into our weakness (8:23-27). The integral link between the enduring hope and the outpouring of the Spirit starts in Romans 5 and ends in 15: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (15:13).
The sturdy snowdrops remind us of the durability of God's promises. The rhythm of life is in his hands. Winter seasons do end – every year. Bareness really is not the last stage. So today, bloom where you are planted. In this season of austerity and insecurity, collectively we can signify hope, a reflection in the world that God takes care indeed.
"See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come", reflects Solomon in the Song of Songs (2:11). White snowdrops appeared yesterday; colorful crocuses today; bright daffodils tomorrow, followed by an array of pastel blossoms, fragrance and fruit.
May spring burst forth in our life - followed by an invincible summer in our world.
Marijke Hoek, Forum for Change coordinator