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It happened again in my barren flower bed: through heaps of graying mulch resembling a ghost town with abandoned mine shafts emerged the solitary gold crocus, its glossy petals yearning for the sun, its striped blades greening in March breezes.

What is unique about this blooming is its recurrence, in the same place, for the past nine years, thwarting winter’s bite and jumpstarting spring’s promise.

Ecstatic by the splash of fresh color, gladness peaks, and I give thanks. 

If Creator God enlivens this solitary gold crocus, year after year…

Behind the loud speaker the yellow splash of her tailored wool coat set off the drab attire of the audience gathered for the inauguration of President Joseph R. Biden. Her caramel-smooth skin, her braids wound atop her head, her gold dangling earrings—all enhanced the cheer of the practiced cadences of the poem composed for this occasion, The Hill We Climb. Such was Amanda Gorman, the first Youth-appointed Poet Laureate of America. So young, yet so attuned to our country’s wounds, she began her recitation with this challenge:

When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find the light in this never-ending shade?

Responses layer the rest of the poem, beginning with acknowledging our grief shared as a populace, not just as individuals. Despite collective harms done, some egregiously so, …we weathered a nation that isn’t broken, just unfinished. Such suffering offers incentives for change as divisiveness corrodes spirit and negates willingness.

Hope for our country’s future deepens with succeeding parts of her vision: to build bridges of understanding, to work together for our nation’s democracy, to respect others as they …sit under their own fig and vine tree, and to remember that … history has its eyes on us.

Then, Gorman postulates … the era of the just redemption… the empowerment… to … author a new chapter, …to rebuild, reconcile, and recover, …battered and beautiful, as we are. Rather than answer the challenge at the beginning of the poem, Gorman concludes with …there will always be light…if we’re brave enough to be it.

The audience’s spirited response to The Hill We Climb attests to the hidden Presence of our God and with us as our newly formed government begins to function. I hope others remember the vision of this poem, that it just not becomes a blip of yellow in front of the shady Capitol.

March’s sunrays play the trickster, intent upon teasing buds erupting from rough canes of the forsythia bush next to my porch. For five springs I have gloried in its abrupt flowering, fingered its yellow bell-shaped blossoms, studied its rain-soaked pendant shapes shielding reproductive parts, sorrowed over storms splatting spent yellows within pools of mud, and noted its fruit: several winged seeds in dry capsules.

Such was also my experience encountering tangled mounds of forsythia bushes in the nearby woods: their color wafting me to a wordless realm, their untidiness transporting me to a strange order that made total sense.

Yet, the process of unfolding happened too quickly, multiple lessons held over to the following year, if I remembered … Perhaps this year will be different.

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