Seeing and not-seeing Spring

It is not spring yet. Friends in St. Louis post pictures of flowering trees, of daffodils in bloom. Here, there is snow in the forecast. It’s still too cold to sit outside. This morning, there was frost on the ground when we woke up, the bird bath was frozen, and the high today is expected to be only in the 30’s.

But I am amazed, even so, at the signs of a coming change.

The cranes, for example, are returning. On an afternoon walk last week, their unmistakable call echoed across the silent ridge. I heard them calling long before I saw them fly overhead.cranes

The gulls are back near the water, picking through remnants of ice along the shorelines.

All winter, the cherry trees were brown, but now they have developed a red hue.


The maple syrup collection bags have just appeared on maple trees, signs that the sap is running.


Within days, we are told, the salmon will come into the creeks for their spawning.

It’s still as cold as December. What do these cranes, these fish, these branches know that I do not?

In my former home, it was easy to see when winter was over. I had primary sources like warm temperatures and the pink blooms on crabapple trees to make it obvious. I knew spring had arrived because I saw it.

Here, on the other hand,  I must trust the secondary sources. It feels like winter still, yet the cranes and the sugar maples know otherwise. Forces I cannot see are at work.

I know many people who have suffered for a long time. Refugees wait in holding camps for a decade. A child stays drug dependent.  A mother hears a racial slur hurled at her child. The boss remains a jerk. That third attempt at pregnancy ends in miscarriage yet again. There is not enough money this month despite some promising prospects.  A husband’s depression engulfs.

In so many of our afflictions, we tire of waiting when there is no change. Our winters linger way past our patience. We become hopeless in our longing for spring.

Beyond that, we want to see these changes for ourselves.   We are just like Thomas, the (doubting) disciple who wanted to see for himself that Jesus was alive. Reports from others would not do.   We’d do well to notice Jesus’ response to Thomas. Jesus did not chide him exactly, for wanting  proof with his own eyes. But Jesus did praise those who believed without seeing.

So in this Easter week when thoughts should rightly turn to belief in the impossible, let’s take note:

Just because we don’t see change doesn’t mean it isn’t coming. The cranes have come flying in; the fish will soon swim upstream. It will not be winter forever.

Jesus said to him…”Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”John 20:29





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