At this time on the calendar, we look for signs of spring. The weather and our climate pay little attention to a date on the calendar. But we hope. What do we mean by “spring?” Warmer weather, less or no snow, eventually the first flowers, crocuses poking through snow.
We who live in the Upper Midwest know that the months of March and April can be a mixed bag. I was born in mid-April and my mother has told me they brought me home in a snow storm.
Spring struggles to be born. It occurs to me that there is a difference between fall and spring. Fall seems to happen gradually and more smoothly. Summer warmth gradually fades into cooler days and nights, but there is a rather gentle, gradual transition. Some people say autumn is their favorite season as the heat fades away and trees change color and there are apples and cider and refreshing walks through crunchy leaves.
But spring seems more turbulent. Snow leaves and comes back. It is more often the season of tornadoes and occasional ice storms. Spring teases us with what is to come. April fool jokes can be played on us by the weather.
And so maybe, for all that, spring’s struggles more realistically reflect our personal and spiritual lives. They, unlike the fall, are often not gentle and gradual transitions, but are full of ups and downs, fits and starts, failed attempts, fading away of good intentions like so many ongoing New Year’s resolutions that never continue.
Too pessimistic? We may not speak in universal terms as though everyone feels that way. Maybe your experience is more peaceful. But real life, where Christ walks with us, is often a bumpy road, like the alternating snow and melting, the slush and the mud of spring. As Richard Rohr likes to say, it is often three steps forward and two steps back.
And yet, it all leads to the main event of spring: Resurrection. Life after struggle. So here, in mid-Lent, we continue our journey of good intentions, attempts at prayer, opening to repentance, and we look again and again for signs of a spiritual spring.
– Tom Zelinski OFM Cap.