Yesterday I read in Isaiah 50 that God’s servant knows “how to sustain with a word him who is weary.” And I thought to myself: what one word would be enough to do all that?
There are many, but since I was looking out the window at a snow-slush mix of despair, only one came to mind: spring.
Here’s where I pity you poor folks who live in temperate climates where only the change of a few degrees and the Walmart holiday displays show a change in seasons. In Minnesota, you notice the arrival of spring. You wait for it, long for it, plead for it to show up sooner while you’re hazarding icy driveways to scrape frosty car windows in the bitter wind to get into a car that may or may not start in the -30 degree temperatures.
Maybe you can tell: it’s been a long winter for me, inside and out. And I am weary.
If you are too, here are a few songs of spring to remind you that, like C.S. Lewis wrote in his Narnia series, Aslan is on the move, even if we can’t see it quite yet by looking at our thermometers (or our life circumstances).
Ever since sixth grade, I would sing Nichole Nordeman’s “Every Season” out in the neighbor’s field on sunny days, sometimes running down a hill and twirling around when no one was watching like that one scene in The Sound of Music. I loved that song, because it sounded just like Ecclesiastes, but with a little more Jesus.
“Even now in death you open doors for life to enter.”
In college, I would fairly regularly explore the woods alone and/or climb a tree to read a book. After I attended a production of the musical The Secret Garden, I spent most of the next February and March wandering around with a large stick and belting out “Winter’s on the Wing,” charming all of the area squirrels with my terrible Yorkshire accent. (I really hope only the squirrels were in hearing range.)
“I say, be gone, ye howlin’ gales / Be off, ye frosty morns / All ye solid streams begin to thaw / Melt, ye waterfalls / Part ye frozen winter walls / See, see now it’s startin.’”
I was going to add a disclaimer here that you shouldn’t think of me as some crazy hippie who spends most of her time wandering barefoot in the woods while singing to herself. Except that’s actually reasonably accurate, so whatever. I’m just going to embrace it. (Believe me, I have no other Disney Princess-esque qualities.)
Lately, I’ve been looping Andrew Peterson’s “The Sower’s Song,” because I appreciate the hard-fought reality to his spring. Where it lands in the album, it’s at the end of a long, dark winter of the soul, and I love the promises repeated again and again. They give a sense of faith when you can’t see the first signs of spring yet, but you know they’re coming. That’s where I am right now.
Usually, I play this song on headphones and occasionally hum along in the quiet of my room. But tonight, for old times’ sake, I jammed on my paisley rainboots—because I’m defiant and I like metaphors and one of my snowboots has a hole in it—and made my way to the trail in the woods near my apartment.
Someone else with larger feet had stomped out a trail before me on the packed-down snow, high above the tree roots usually level with the path, and I followed their footprints. After I was surrounded by bare branches that look dead but are really only dormant and I had checked both ways for stray joggers willing to brave the weather…I sang.
“So I kneel / At the bright edge of the garden / At the golden edge of dawn / At the glowing edge of spring / When the winter’s edge is gone / And I can see the color green / I can hear the sower’s song / Abide in me.”
Once I was done, I breathed in the fresh air and wrote in the snow with a mismatched glove whose twin is buried somewhere underneath a February snowdrift.
And I listened very, very carefully. I heard the song of a hardy chickadee instead of a robin, and the one time I thought I might be hearing the drip-drip-dripping of an early thaw, it was only the wind. But that’s okay. I’ll be back in a few weeks, and the green hiding, waiting, will be come out again. It always does, and that’s the beauty of the promise of spring.
On the way back, I launched into another round of the song. And it sounded like hope.