Leaning in to the Ache of Waiting

Leaning in to the Ache of Waiting March 2, 2019


This winter seems to be following the pattern of the previous two: in December we long for snow that does not come, but in March we resent the snow that will not stop coming. Weeks of cold and darkness and time spent indoors have prepared our hearts for spring. Which means, we are fairly bursting with a desire for sunshine and warmth and green, growing things.

Waiting grows harder the longer we wait.

Ironically, spring feels more and more impossible the nearer it comes. I am tempted to put away my gardening books and graph paper plans. What’s the point of such dreams and desires when spring will never come?


I grew up in Texas. Winters were mild and springs were gentle. But in my new book Placemaker, I write about my first experience of true spring:

I had dreamed of autumn trees for most of my life, but the unexpected beauty of the spring trees was one of the sweetest and least anticipated gifts I was given in Virginia. Before Virginia, I had not known that the prize for enduring a real winter, with its occasional wonderland days and its regular misery days, was an awakening so astonishing it felt as if I learned what the word spring meant for the first time in my life. Spring wasn’t simply a pleasant interlude; it wasn’t merely the chance to catch one’s breath between the ice storm and the heat wave. It was a fulfillment. It was a promise kept, though I had not even realized a promise had been made.

The darker the winter, the greater the promise:

It will not always be like this.


I could try to stop seeing the snow outside my window. Instead of pulling my coat on one more time and heading out for a trudge through ice or mud, I could numb my heart with flickering screens and other distractions.

But what would I miss?

Some of the despair, certainly. But also the first signs of hope and change: the way daylight lingers a little longer every evening, the green tips of daffodils beginning to poke up beneath the hawthorn trees, that first haze of green on a bare tree.

I’m so hungry for spring I can hardly bear it. Every day of this waiting, the emptiness in me grows. But such emptiness is a promise that will be fulfilled.

We will be filled up and overflowing with the new life of spring.


Readers, my new book Placemaker: Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty, and Peace releases on March 12! It’s a call to tend the soul, the land, and the places we share with one another. It’s a reminder that the cultivation of good and beautiful places is not a retreat from the real world but a holy pursuit of a world that is more real than we know.

I hope you’ll order your copy today.

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