Thursday, January 30, 2014

Hints of Spring

Fall is my favorite season. There is just something incredibly cheerful about the sound of crunching leaves beneath your feet, the weather being nippy enough to warrant having soup three to four times a week, and the anticipation of the coming holiday season.  I also think that some of it has to do with the fact that I work in Academe, and fall is similar to New Year's for the rest of the business world.  Fall whispers of possibilities, new beginnings, and the excitement of learning new things.

A picture of a barn along the Camino. There are 5 cylindrical bales of hay inside of it.
One of the barns that I passed as I walked the Camino last September
At the same time, the fall tends to slide from rioting colors, sunny but cool days, and an abundance of produce to the dormant, dreary days of winter.  The leafy bows of trees become a lacy latticework of branches and twigs.  The cool becomes cold, and the winds morph from refreshing to biting and bitter. While we live in an area of the country where we haven't experienced near the cold as other places in the country, it has been rather cold of late.  For me, winter are the months of hunkering down underneath mountains of covers, fuzzy socks, the never-ending cup of tea, and wishing that I were young enough to still rock a pair of ear muffs.  Instead, my ears get cold enough that I begin to actually contemplate growing my hair out in order to keep them warm!

I know I'm too old for these, but I still think they are cute--Hello Kitty Rocks!
Just like the ebb and flow of the liturgical year, I tend to go through seasons spiritually as well.  Last year's Camino was fall for me--a veritable harvest of insights as I gloried in the broad brush strokes of riotous color.  But, after once in a lifetime experiences like this, it is sometimes hard to transition back into the monotony of everyday life.  The warm hues of autumn fade into the monochrome greys and whites of winter.  You hunker down, lean into the wind, and plod on.  And, as you do so, subtle changes occur in your life and heart.  Even in winter, God is working in your life.  The dormancy gives Him a chance to repair, to prune, to shore up weak areas, and to highlight areas that need growth.  Fertilizer is mixed into the earth, and nutrients are absorbed.  Nothing flashy, and much of it not seen or felt at all, but it is still going on.  

And then, one day, you see it: the greenish sheen in that corner of the garden where the first blades of grass are peeking out.  A few days later, you begin to see buds burgeoning on the limbs above you.  The first flower peeks out at you.  And, the next thing you know, it is spring, with all of its promise of new growth and the harvest to come.  While we are still a good month or two away from spring physically, the hints of spring are once again showing up in my heart, and that is a wondrous thing.  

The plum trees in bloom outside of my office building here on campus. Only another month or so until I see this sight again!