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Outside my study window, a robin alighted upon the still wintry appearance of a branch, caught by April’s tag with the sun, then was gone. Unlike signs of other leafing shrubs, this one feels shivery with indecision, its scraggy impression resembling a cluttered attic. Yet, upon closer inspection, a few small slender buds point toward the sky; the color, still to come.

The experience reminds me of Isaiah’s prophecy:

Behold, I will do a new thing. Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?

Intended for exiled Israelites under the Babylonians, soon to be freed in 539 BCE, the text still carries fresh power. The new thing fires the imagination and excites creativity, looks beyond the humdrum, and inhales vistas yet to be explored. But the even greater challenge is to recognize the new thing when it comes.

Memories of missed invitations rankle, with their failure of nerve, too absorbed in my psyche to take the necessary actions. In preferring my will, I scraped depression’s depths rather than internalize the gift proffered. And only within the gentle discipline of AA, years later, did I begin to watch for the telltale signs of new growth.

About that same time, the season of spring began to remind me of Creator God and His color-making power in ever-expanding universes—even now, in this eighty-six-year-old cypher.

Soon, the robin’s perch in the summer snowflake viburnum will assume the shape of a lacy gown—the seventh year of its flowering outside my study window. I give thanks, with gusto.

Covid seems to have a mind of its own—a stripping that flattens initiative, that dissects energy into unseemly burps, that short-shifts plans into uselessness, and impales spirits upon re-runs. Nothing seems to work the way it used to. Patience thins like threadbare overcoats on city pigeons perched upon window ledges.

A bleary scenario, to be sure, but not unlike November’s stripping, also in process.

No longer do winds tickle leaves from branches; they rip them asunder, strewing bits onto gables, creek beds, and wooded paths. Swirls of yellowish-browns skitter along sidewalks, bed down in gutters, spike in woody hedges, mass atop listless perennials. A solitary flame-tree cackles at this despoliation, until its own during the next windstorm.

Juvenile squirrels frisk around tree trunks, then gawk, stunned. Canadian geese meddle about like staid sergeants on a murder case. Swarms of blackbirds swoop and caw, echoing distress. Our world sighs in muted grays and browns as death stalks in between the next breath.

There is something to learn here if we are willing. It’s about acceptance of what is, including the cyclical nature of change. True, Covid has bruised every institution, modified communication, left a swath of the ill and dying upon our planet, and altered esteemed values—substantial losses, admittedly. But whoever said that we were more than human? That suffering wasn’t wrapped within everyone’s birthright?

Wounded as we are, hushness envelops us with the grace of waiting for what we know not: There will be some form of greening, if we are still and watchful.

As the rigors of winter fade, a single gold crocus pushes through the mulch of my barren flowerbed and preens in the sun like a rollicking clown—the tenth year of such flowerings that reveals the Creator’s kiss.

Glad are our hearts this morning.

 

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