Hello, Easter, My Old Friend

Hello, Easter, My Old Friend April 9, 2019

 

There is nothing, nothing, nothing, until, suddenly, there is everything: a haze of green on the trees, daffodils trumpeting in the breeze, and fruit trees bursting into blossom like popcorn popping.

I keep, without even trying, a growing mental list:

  • Saucer magnolia (check)
  • Japanese cherry tree (check)
  • Apricot tree (check)
  • Donut peach tree (check)
  • Early daffodils (check)
  • Forsythia (check)

I can’t wait to add: tulips, viburnum, and apple blossom.

This is my seventh spring at Maplehurst. It now feels like the return of an old friend.

*

I write of my first encounter with spring in my new book Placemaker.

I grew up in Texas where spring was a wonderful but very simple affair. It was a brief reprieve from winter chill and summer heat. It was the glory of bluebonnets and other wildflowers along every highway and country road. It was always over too soon.

My first spring after moving from Texas to Virginia was an unanticipated gift:

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, thought I had not even realized a promise had been made. Like winter, the wilderness is always a promise. God leads us in and, one way or another, he leads us out again.

Spring is the fulfillment of winter. Easter is the fulfillment of Lent. 

When we are young (in years, in faith) those fulfilled promises astonish us. I can remember experiencing spring in Virginia in a kind of frenzy almost. It seemed too good to be true, and I ran around trying, almost desperately, to soak up every last beautiful detail. It was as if I suddenly held an overflowing cup of water after too long in the desert.

Spring isn’t like that now. Instead, I say, “Oh, it’s you again,” with a smile and a deep sigh of gladness.

*

Year after year, winter erupts into spring. Year after year, Lenten grief leads to Easter joy, until we greet Easter, not with astonishment, not in a frenzy, but like an old, much-loved friend.

I wonder if that’s how it’s meant to be? Is that the reward for cultivating resurrection in small ways over a lifetime?

It feels as if Easter has settled into my bones. I still ache for it and long for it all winter long, but when it does come, it feels, more and more over the years, as if it never really left.

As if it’s been here, all along.

 

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