Growing up in north west Ohio, I always hated to spring. March was the calendar’s official start to spring, but you certainly couldn’t tell from looking outside. March meant more precipitation, but not warmer weather. Spring often started off with still more snow, freezing rain, sleet. Spring snow is not marveled over like the first snows of December. A white Christmas is a thing of beauty, crisp and quiet and cozy. Even adults will gasp at the fat snowflakes coming down outside. Look! They will cry like the extras in a Hallmark movie, it’s SNOWING!
A white Easter isn’t quite so welcome. There are exclamations from people about the snow, but they do NOT belong in greeting cards. They don’t even belong in mixed company. In the mid-west spring is a time where nothing seems to make sense. You leave your house in a sweater and need to defrost your car to get to work, then you are sweating uncontrollably on the way home even with the AC on. The next day you show up for work in your new spring skirt with a bright floral print, and it snows.
Those late snows are heart breaking. The snow sits on the tulips and mocks every hope you ever had about shorts and sun tanning and lying in the grass. In April, (yes it sometimes snows in April) the whiteness that sparkled in December just feels dull and awful, like nature is attempting to erase all the tiny pieces of hope you’ve been noticing for a month.
My first Spring in Georgia was a complete shock. None of this sweater one day, shorts the next weather. There are a couple glorious days in early March (or sometimes late February) and then it just warms up gradually. You no longer need a coat and two weeks later you can wear shorts. Spring comes, right when the calendar says it will.
This Lenten season, in my spirit, I am experiencing a Georgia Spring. I had a long hard winter from September-February. I arrived at Ash Wednesday tired and hungry, completely worn out just from the daily grind, from being out in the cold. I hadn’t even decided what I was going to give up for Lent.
And at the kneeler, with ashes on my forehead acknowledging that from dust I come and from dust I will return, I heard the Lord tell me that I was to give up striving for Lent. I was to give up slamming myself into all the brick walls and just let Him handle it.
24 hours later I got accepted into a program I had forgotten I applied to. Within the week a chance I had long wanted but didn’t know was even available was just handed to me. I was seen, I was affirmed, I was given good gifts. I had done nothing to deserve this. It is just steadily getting warmer. The flowers are coming; the smell in the air has changed.
I have had my share of spiritual springs, but mostly they are the North West Ohio kind. Right when I am sure it is all going to be glorious and we will wear shorts every day, when I can literally see the tulips, that last storm comes and I have to dig down deep to believe that spring will ever really be here.
But this is what you learn in Ohio in the spring time. The spring will come. The snow always melts. The hope of tulips and green grass is hiding there underneath that last cruel snow. Whether a Georgia spring or a cruel and uneven Ohio season: Spring always comes.