March is a month of beginnings. It marks the beginning of meteorological spring, and the signs that winter is ending are beginning to appear in Central Wisconsin: temperatures are warmer; the snow is receding and more grass is revealed each day; we have more hours of daylight each day; and the rising sun is moving closer and closer to the center of my east-facing bedroom window. In another week, we will begin daylight savings time. In two weeks, we will mark the Spring Equinox and the official beginning of spring.

There are other signs the transition from winter to spring has begun. JustBob reports that the nighthawks have returned to the grounds. Jackie K. said that her relatives have spotted robins in the Madison area, so the appearance of robins in Marathon is likely imminent. Tracy has spotted a rather plump squirrel at the feeders and we suspect she is in a “family way”, not just raiding the feeders significantly more often than the other squirrels.

This March, we are seeing another beginning – a beginning to the end of the pandemic. The number of COVID cases reported each day is declining and the number of vaccine doses administered is rising. So while we can see the faint glimmer of a light at the end of this year-long dark tunnel, here at St. Anthony’s we remain vigilant in doing all we can to remain safe and COVID-free. We continue to wait as patiently as possible for the opportunity to return to so many things we used to take for granted.

New beginnings offer us hope. The birth of new critters, the greening of the grass, and the emergence of flowers are signs of rebirth, signs of hope.

After this past year, we need all the hope we can find. We hope the vaccines prove effective in eliminating the life-threatening consequences of COVID. We hope that life at St. Anthony’s can safely return to more normal operation in terms of numbers of groups and numbers of guests. We hope that as our friends are able to get vaccinated they will feel safer gathering at St. Anthony’s for retreats and to volunteer.

We know this hope has yet to be realized. Yet we continue to hope as we wait patiently for this new beginning to become reality, just as we must wait patiently for the flowers to emerge from the ground and the new leaves to emerge from the bare tree limbs.

For all of our new beginnings and the hope they bring, and for all those beginnings we hope for but still patiently await, we say Deo Gratias!