Longer days and the hope of spring

by Pastor Lois Pallmeyer

I’ve been trying to stay neutral about the weather. I’m the one who will remind you always, “April is the cruelest month,” because just when you start to hope spring should arrive, it doesn’t. Even in less severe years, April usually offers a harsh stretch of grey, chilly, windy weeks. When the snow melts in April, it only serves to uncover battered turf and uneven, muddy spots where the grass was killed off. Those last persistent snow piles are always right in the way – close to the doors and the edges of the driveways where we shoveled the most frequently – and they’re the ugliest, dark greyish mounds of ice and grit from the sand and salt laid down to clear the roads. I long for spring, but am usually reminded that it hasn’t really arrived yet.

This year has really tested my patience. It’s been the snowiest, coldest April on record. I’ve battled a wicked cold the last few weeks, which made things seem especially ugly. I didn’t help, but I could take pictures of my dear spouse, clearing the driveway multiple times per weekend. (I’m sure he appreciated that my only assistance was to record his efforts.)

And yet… The other day, in spite of the mounds of snow from the blizzard, we took a walk after dinner. Not only that, but we walked in daylight. I didn’t have to wrap my nerdy reflective vest over my parka or light up my phone to warn the drivers of my presence there on the curb. I was able to walk in daylight in the evening hours. It was honestly quite lovely, and it offered me the sweetest hope yet that spring was arriving, in spite of the snow and cold.

So yes, I could join with all of those who are complaining about the length of winter. I am not a fan of the season at all. But instead, I’m remembering that winter is long, and complaining doesn’t change that. And in spite of the cold and the wind and the snow and the ice, the sun shines. The sun shines every day. In fact, it shines longer each day this time of year. We are experiencing nearly the same amount of daily sunshine right now as we will on the days of State Fair this August. The gift of spring will come, even if many of the signs of it are still hidden.

So too, God’s love shines in our world, every day. There is much that may hide it from us. We have plenty to worry about. Loved ones face illness and disappointment. Racism continues to separate us. Innocent people suffer. Bombs target Syria from inside and from out. Refugees lack homes and homelands. World leaders turn a blind eye to injustice everywhere unless they perceive it to be about themselves.

And yet, God’s love shines. Random acts of kindness are offered. Children learn generosity. Friends offer compassion. Once timid people learn to use their voice advocating for their neighbors. Someone who normally stays to themselves reaches toward the next pew to greet someone who is grieving. Prayers are shared with someone who can no longer find the words to use. And somewhere, someday very soon, small green shoots will burst through muddy lawns, and daffodils will bloom.

I won’t be neutral about the weather that day. Nor will I be neutral about God’s love shining today. Thanks for being witnesses to that love for me.