Spring around here is volatile to say the least. In the last couple weeks it has been raining, hailing, sunny, super stormy, windy and everything in between. And this can all can happen in one day! On an extra windy day last week I went out for a walk. It was not necessarily by choice. Adam must keep up his running schedule because of his highly driven personality, and in order to stay in some sort of shape, I've been clinging on for dear life to his persistent energy and constancy. Even if that means braving high winds and rain.
On that particularly blustery day, I held on to my hat with every gust and mentally shook my fist at Adam as he trotted off in front of me, a ball of intensity and drive. Gradually, as my body acclimated itself to the weather, I began to notice that there were little buds on the bushes and trees. We'd had a few warm days and evidently these little leaves thought it might be time to emerge and open up, once again, to the world.
In a funny way, I felt like I could identify with these little buds. They had been cooped up, dead to the world, for the entire winter, and now, with a few good days, they felt brave enough to try to grow again. My thoughts drifted away from the buds and down to the soil. I could imagine, and even empathize, with all the little seeds under the cold, wet earth waiting for a bit more warmth and just the right circumstances to coax them out of the ground. That's what they were made to do. They were made to grow. But before they could find the strength to push through the dirt and sprout into a plant or flower, they had to suffer and wait in that cold, dark, wet world all alone.
Last night we had lots of rain and hail. My bedroom was cool and dark as I nestled under the covers and imagined myself like one of those little lonely seeds. I was underground while the rain, hail and wind beat upon the earth (ceiling) above me. This year the winter months have been especially difficult for me and I've felt like one of those little seeds, alone, cold, surrounded by darkness, and wondering if my time to grow again would ever come.
I know, that sounds really depressing and sad, but it's not as bad as all that. Just like those little seeds, some people need time under the earth. Time to do nothing; to be nothing but empty. I'm one of those people. The more I go through these winters (that don't always coincide with the weather or with anything I can predict) the more I have tried to accept them as they come. I now know, and have begun to appreciate, that I'm not a plant that grows and blooms without end. I am more like a little flower that only grows when the time is right and can be overlooked easily, even by me, because its growing season can be short.
Admittedly, I have wanted to be a big, bright, ever-blooming tropical plant, and have wasted time and energy wishing for a different flowering season. But, now I understand there is something so precious and sweet about those little spring flowers. I remember one spring, when Eli was a little guy still sporting his winter boots, he pointed out to me excitedly the English Daisies that were popping up all over the yard. While his sisters trudged right over them, he carefully placed his clunky boots so he would not step on the precious little weeds. Plus, isn't it true that these first little flowers of spring end up as gift bouquets from little hands?
I like to tell the kids that God don't make no junk (I am especially proud of the proper use of English in that statement). It's true. He loves us all into existence and there is a place for all of us in this world. We bloom and grow in different times and seasons. Some of us more than others, but none of us without a purpose. My cyclical suffering under the earth is my cross to carry and it makes me me. When I get my chance to bloom, it is always refreshing and usually appreciated by me (and probably my family and friends too). But, that time alone in the cold darkness is my time with God. I read the other day that God's mercy goes to the lowest point, like water. When I'm deep under the ground, even though I can't always perceive His closeness, He is there.
"The Lord is close the the brokenhearted. He rescues those whose spirits are crushed" (Psalm 34:18).
In this current wintering season that is coming to its end, I practiced trust. Each time a wave of despair and despondency would come over me, I'd try to do the very Catholic thing and offer it up. St. Paul says in Colossians 1:24, In my sufferings, I fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ (not an exact translation). In other words, I tried to unite my emotional suffering with Christ's suffering on the cross. By this simple practice, this meaningless time in the dark has meaning and is even holy. My suffering, united with the cross, has a purpose. The purpose is a mystery to me, but I trust that it is being used for God's good work. This practice has brought so much peace to my troubled soul and now that I'm beginning to push my way out of the earth again, I can look back and see, yes, He was there (and is there) and I am so grateful for it.