Though the calendar states my area still has about a month until the official arrival of spring, we have been enjoying spring-like temperatures and weather this past week. Sunny skies mixed with puffy white clouds have dominated the past few days, making for great running, biking, and other outdoor activity weather. We’ve also had some intervals of rain clouds to wash away the dirt and dust of winter.
Some things I have noticed while being outside enjoying the spring-like conditions include:
- Sunset is now after 6:00 PM
- Sunrise is now close to 7:00 AM
- Buds are forming on some of the trees and the lilac bushes
- Daffodils, hyacinths, and sedum are poking through the ground
- Male deer (also referred to as bucks) are starting to shed their antlers
Come on Lent!
These early signs of spring also remind me that Lent, the observation of the days before Jesus died and rose from the dead, starts soon. This year, Lent begins on March 1, which is also Ash Wednesday.
One reason I look forward to Lent each year is that it always leads to spring. Another reason is it is a time of reflection and renewal, leading to the hope associated with the Easter season.
Through the years, I have learned to look at Lent as not a season of giving something up (as is the misconception of this Catholic tradition), but rather of gaining:
- Insight into the world around me
- Wisdom for the future
- Perspective to explore and examine
- Strength to build character and faith
- Courage to change and try new things
To me, the lessons I learn during Lent far outweigh the little sacrifices I make in “giving up” something.
Come on Daylight!
The earlier sunrises and later sunsets are a welcome change for my dogs and me. We thoroughly enjoy any time we have outdoors, and the extra daylight allows us more freedom to romp and play.
Perhaps that is the best part of spring, the feeling of freedom conveyed in the light and knowing one is not so constrained by having to fit too many things into too few minutes.
We are fast approaching daylight savings time, or the changing of the clocks. This year, the official change occurs March 12. Though an hour of sleep is lost, I never mind this change because it means more time to enjoy nature and be outdoors.
Come on Spring!
The official start of spring is March 20. Though the weather will most likely change several times between now and the official start of spring, and we may very well have inclement weather well into spring, the mental aspect of knowing better days lie ahead is most helpful. Seeing the daffodils and hyacinths emerging in their vibrant green shoots brings a sense of new life to the surroundings.
Watching the shoots grow seemingly overnight reminds me that so many things are at work when we are not looking. Nature is constantly in motion, changing itself, our surroundings, and even us. Every cell in our body changes more times than we can count without any fanfare. We often don’t know these changes are happening until we are affected in some way, or we see or feel a physical change.
God is also always working behind the scenes to help us see, learn, and grow. We may or may not be aware of His movements, methods, or mechanics, just as we may or may not understand why certain events happen in life. One thing we must remember is not understanding is not always a bad thing. Sometimes, we must learn in steps, slowly processing what we see, hear, taste, feel, and experience.
As time moves us forward, we become aware of the lessons, facts, and information set before us. The light of spring offers us help in understanding by dispelling the shadows of the dark that obscure our view and hamper our vision.
Learning by Living
Watching the deer gathering in the fields around my house, I noticed some of the bucks now have only one side of their racks on their heads. They are shedding their antlers to allow new antlers to grow in the coming months. Just as the male deer shed their antlers in order to allow new growth, we too must sometimes let go of something in order to grow and mature. One way to recognize what we should or should not keep is to live life the best we can each day, one day at a time.
As I wrote in a previous post, I have long viewed late fall and winter as times to reflect inward, examining where I have been, where I wish to be, and how best to move forward. The spring season always draws my attention outward a bit, giving me reason to explore my surroundings more and to take what I learned during my inward reflections and apply that knowledge to helping others.
Perhaps this is a good way to view Lent—as a chance to examine inward, then explore outward, using the light of nature as a guide. As the light slowly draws our attention away from ourselves, we can focus more on helping others upon the journey.
May the coming light of spring help us to have clearer vision and better perspective. May the light draw our hearts, minds, and souls outward to help each other past the darkness of life’s storms. May we also find hope and inspiration in the early song of spring.
Early Song of Spring
Warm air blowing through the trees
Below the crimson flare of the sunrise in the east,
Green shoots less than an inch high
Rising under the sun in a blue sky,
Deer in the fields grazing at dusk
With their coats slowly changing from gray to rust,
Oh, the early song of spring
Is whistling along the promise it brings.
Killdeer! Killdeer! calling in the day
Flying near as they dip and sway
In the warm current of the breeze
Imploring the fields to turn green
From the mix of sun and rain
Dropping down from above heaven’s space,
Oh, the early song of spring
Carries the soul along to new beginnings.
Quiet symphony of the morning hours
Rising to meet the light that showers
Beams of orange, gold, yellow, and peach
Across the rows of the fields beneath
Where the dew gathers upon the blades
Soaking through the earth as it escapes
In the early song of spring
Opening the folds of life’s offerings.
-Lisa A. Wisniewski
Resources and Related Links
Ash Wednesday – http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01775b.htm
Daylight savings time – https://www.timeanddate.com/time/change/usa?year=2017
Official start of spring 2017 – http://www.almanac.com/content/first-day-seasons-2017