Dark snow piles give way to green sprouts. Bare branches leaf out or, even better, break overhead into pink, yellow, white or purple flowers. It’s finally spring in Wisconsin.
The sun breaks through in the early morning to announce a new day. Bikes, buggies, convertibles, runners and dog walkers become more numerous. It’s as if the outside world is awakening to welcome the new season.
We open our windows to allow the fresh smells of blossoming trees and flowers to enter our houses —unless there are allergies. The sunny yellows of daffodils, purple hyacinths and many-hued tulips brighten the rainy days.
The new vines we see driving past a country vineyard show promise of a fruit-filled harvest. There is work ahead.
Over summer, emerging garden crops must be cultivated and trained to grow in a certain way in order to ensure an even more colorful bounty.
After the gray, dead, dull days of late winter, these signs of life also remind us to freshen our winter-weary lives.
The post-Easter celebrations and Scriptures also provide refreshment for the soul. When we attend Mass or explore daily spiritual readings, we are reminded that just as God has made all things new in our earthly surroundings, he also awakens us to search for a fresh spring start in our spiritual lives.
We joyfully celebrate baptisms and first Communions as we revel in the innocent spiritual beauty of the children on these occasions. We see growth in the Spirit as we welcome candidates for confirmation of their faith after an intense study year. It really should make us want to sing with joy. Now it is time to share with others the love that God has shared with us at Easter.
As weak human beings, we soon forget the love and joy we have received and the call to share our “fruits.” Why is it easy to speak of Jesus with those in Bible study or at church, but we seldom discuss our beliefs and proclaim the Gospel to our other good friends and relatives?
They should be the first ones with whom we share the love of Jesus. How do we do this? For some, sharing faith comes naturally. Others need inspiration and assistance.
Between his Resurrection and the Ascension, Jesus spoke about the kingdom of God, asking the apostles and disciples to be witnesses “to the ends of the earth.” Sing praise, sing praise. He is ready to hear our prayers, to grant all of us wisdom and knowledge to use in our particular lives to build up the Body of Christ, to attain unity of faith.
We hear this every year. Is it because we are too easily distracted by worldly attractions that we must be constantly reminded of our faith call and duty to share?
We have so many reminders in the liturgies and Scripture readings. The sadness of the Crucifixion is past. The joy of the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus is in our thoughts and prayers. We have hope that we can do this. We have the wonderful feasts of Pentecost, the Trinity and the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.
I recall Corpus Christi processions in which the priest carried the monstrance containing the sacred host as first Communion children would scatter a path of flower petals. There were four outside altars set up at the corners of the church’s city block. The priest would stop at each for a short ceremony, blessing the people gathered there.
The church further reminds us of the parables of Jesus, and the many miracles performed by him and the apostles, wonderful examples through which are revealed all that the Father wants us to know.
We are weak, we become discouraged, we fail – in our eyes, but not in God’s eyes. He is always there to lift us up, to encourage us, to give us signs of his love when we cannot see the sun shining or the bright colors of his world.
We even hear, after Jesus was not accepted in his own Nazareth, how he moved forward and urged his apostles to do so also, not to stay if people were not listening, but to move on to those whose hearts were open.
We not only have a new world around us physically in the spring, but our spirits are revived and renewed through the feasts and teachings of the church year. It is no “ordinary” time, even though that is what it is called. We are being pruned and trained to reach a bountiful harvest that can — and should be — shared, especially with those we love the most.
We need to go out physically – walking, cycling, driving – to observe the world, gather in the inspiration of spring. Then learn to share our joy in God’s world and words with those we see and meet, especially our families.
When God gives us such beautiful inspiration in nature, we know he will also answer the prayers of his people with his love and graces.
(King, a member of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Parish, North Lake, is married to Thomas. They have seven children, 17 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.)