Ah, those word invoke visions of young bodies on warm beaches drinking in the sunshine. School is out for a week and frazzled college students pack their bags and head south for a glorious week of stress-free playtime before having to come back to face the last push at the end of the semester.
At least I assume that is what it is like.
I have never had a Spring Break like that.
Nope. My spring breaks have mostly consisted of yard work, spring cleaning and maybe, if I am lucky, a picnic lunch in a newly green park near home. I have never felt the loss. Being an introvert, the thought of crowded beaches, mobbed theme parks and packed bars made me shudder. Add to that the stereotype that all the young bodies belong to ‘beautiful people’ intimidates me beyond belief. True or not, that stereotype has kept me safely home for decades.
This year is no different. Instead of sprawling my out-of-shape-middle-aged body on sun-warmed sand, I am raking debris out of the yard and gardens. I am listening to the joyful laughter of my teenage kids as they play together, the battles and frustration of winter melting like snow under the warming sun. All around us the world is returning to life, bulbs are beginning to bloom, new green grass is emerging from the brown of last year’s growth and the air is filled with the songs of birds returning to their summer homes.
I am not so good at the spring cleaning inside. It often takes me until fall to get that done. But the windows are open and warm fragrant breezes flutter my curtains. The floors are swept to clean up the mud tracked in by happy kids and dogs (not to mention the copious amounts of hair from two shedding labs!) But then the warm breezes and sunshine lure me outside once more.
So while warm sand and crashing surf are nice, I would not trade my Spring Break at home for any beach in the world.
I was going to write about the ‘prodigal son’ parable today. My pastor gave a very stirring sermon on it yesterday that brought it to life for me. I was inspired to write an even deeper tale of the lost son and his father studded by friends who lead us astray and a Father who searches the horizon for our return.
But then I went for a walk. Always a good idea, I know. But today I was wading through knee deep snow trying to capture the bright morning sun glint of the diamond flakes of fresh snow on film. As I struggled through the snow, ever grateful for my snow-pants and tall boots, I began to hear a strange sound, bursts of silver melody weaving through the trees. What is that sound. Could it be, is it possible, are the birds really returning. Camera in hand, I peer through the sparkling light toward the trees.
There on that branch a flash of blue. I catch my breath in wonder and slowly bring my camera to eye level and zoom in. Click.
Several pairs of Purple Martins were flying through the trees lifting my spirits with their songs. Bright flashes of color in a grey and white world.
Could it be that Spring is beginning to approach the horizon?
This is such a hard time of year, at least for me. I know I am not the only one who struggles yearly with the post-holiday blues or seasonal depression. It just feels like I am. There are days I struggle to get out of bed, to put one foot in front of the other. I long to go back to bed and snuggle under my covers with a sign on the door that says ‘Do Not Disturb Until Spring’.
But I can’t do that. I have three kids who need help to get up and moving in the morning. I have a husband who needs clean clothes to wear to work and a somewhat tidy house to come home to in the evening. I also have dogs. They need me to feed them and walk them and give them love and attention.
Today I just wasn’t feeling it. I had managed to get the kids off to school, only one missed the bus and had to catch a ride with dad. I was sitting on the couch sipping my coffee as I gave vague attention to a morning show on TV. No sooner had my eyes drifted shut, seeking the less stressful land of dreams, than the dogs whined. Not much, just a little reminder that they had been in their crates all night and really needed to go out.
I was still in my bathrobe, feet curled under a fuzzy blanket and my head heavy from a poor night’s sleep, ‘Quiet’ I command. They subside for a few minutes, then another whine.
‘Hush, I’m not ready to deal with you yet.’The whining gets louder and is soon accompanied by scratching. Come on, Mom, I gotta go!
Finally, I get up off the couch, get dressed and take them for a walk. I live far enough in the country so that I can let them roam on the property while I mosey along behind them. They take off to do their business and I follow at my own pace.
What a pretty morning. A not-so-cold breeze dances through my hair. The bright morning sun breaks through lingering clouds and I can actually feel warmth in the golden rays. I take a deep breath and for a second, I taste Spring. Of course, this is Central New York and Spring will be months in coming, but sometimes, in the darkest depths of winter a warmer day arrives. The snow melts to reveal the sleeping earth beneath just waiting to waken from its slumber to surge to life again.
Winter is not forever. Thank you God for reminding me that this is just a season, and seasons change. Thank you Sadie and Annie for making me go out this morning.
I sit here at my desk and a breeze kisses my cheek. I look up but all has gone still. A minute goes by, the humid stillness of the house settles around me once more. A trickle of sweat traces a wet path down my brow and a fresh stirring of air cools me. I stand and go to the door. The trees in the yard are dancing in the wind. When I open the door, a breath of fresh air rushes in clearing out the heaviness. I close my eyes and turn my face to the heavens letting the breeze wash over me clearing the stuffiness from my mind. Change is coming.
What kind of change? According to the weather report, the heat wave is broken. The rain is coming bringing with it cooler temperatures and drier air. We often speak of someone being a ‘breath of fresh air’. It is often someone who is content to be him or herself, someone who cheerfully goes about their daily tasks bringing peace and joy in their wake. they are the cool breeze that blows through the stuffiness of our lives. Once they are past, the stuffiness closes back in and we return to the dullness of our lives.
Maybe we shouldn’t return. When the winds of change blow outside the door, something new is coming. When that breath of fresh air passes before you, grab hold (not of the person, of course) and see if a fresh perspective can change the dullness of life. Let the breeze of the Spirit blow through you and clear the cobwebs from your brain, let it remove the scales from your eyes so that you can see the world as our Lord does. Life is full of adventure and hope. The Lord calls us not to be content with the same-old same-old, but to celebrate His life in us everyday.
‘Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.’ Gal. 5:25 Let us walk in step with the Spirit so that we can be constantly refreshed by his breeze.