Spring has arrived in northern Indiana. But then, it has been arriving for some time. This post goes back in time, to early April, and the days of brown woods (but mossy paths) and the first crocus and windflowers. By the end of that week, the green gauze of leaves opening was washing through the woods.
May was a full month, beginning with a retreat at Lindenwood Retreat Center in Donaldson, IN, and moving on through yard and household projects in addition to the usual things. I took photos, but haven't had time or energy to post. So, over the next few days, we'll have a May retrospective.
Thanks to cooler weather, the blossoms of redbud and crabapple trees lasted longer than usual. Both were in view at our Great Lakes Mennonite Spiritual Directors retreat, which had the theme of Abundant Life in Liminal Spaces. The labyrinth was a recurring image of "liminal space". The group that walked the labyrinth for a spiritual practices session discovered that geese had been there before them, leaving "gifts" along the way. Initially frustrated by this, the group decided that actually this was a lot like life -- that often the thresholds of change and transition, the liminal spaces, have a lot of messiness about them. (How appropriate to be reminded the following Sunday, Pentecost, that one Celtic image for the Holy Spirit is wild geese.)
There were plenty of wild geese in the small lake, and a turtle sunning itself on our one beautiful sunny warm day, and an osprey soaring above its nest and perch in a nearby field.
I had an hour or so out in the woods at Pathways Retreat Center last Saturday, one of the first really warm sunny days this spring. The upper branches were still bare, but the greening has started. Hildegard of Bingen, a 12th century German abbess, musician, theologian and visionary, wrote of the greening power of God, or viriditas (Latin for greenness). Greening, freshness, vitality, life-force, growth -- it's in sight all around us this time of year. Green flames everywhere I looked -- and a few golden touches as well. Enjoy the green, and celebrate Earth Day this Friday.
For liturgical churches, purple is the color of Lent, the season we are now in, the forty days plus Sundays leading up to Easter. The word itself comes from the Old English word for spring, and is related to various Germanic languages meaning the lengthening of days. These crocus celebrate the purple and glow with the spring light.
In northern Indiana, we're at one of the year's hinges (how appropriate that yesterday was Leap Day!). One day the glimpses of white are the snowdrops coming up through brown leaves and green pachysandra, and the calligraphy of bare white sycamore branches lit by the sun.
A day or two later, those snowdrops are covered with snow and the only "flowers" to be seen are icy caps on dried seedheads. One sunlit clump of snow reminds me of cupped hands -- holding the thought of spring, perhaps? A day later, the snow is gone, and the snowdrops have grown several inches. And I spot early crocus, white and yellow, in my south-facing window well. Despite today's winter weather advisory, spring is on its way.
It may have been a quiet week in Lake Wobegone, but it was a lively one here in Goshen, my home town. My sister and I drove our parents here from North Carolina, moving them into their new home in Juniper Place. Garrison Keillor brought his radio show, Prairie Home Companion, to campus and the college chamber choir had a starring role, involving many young people who we know well. And full spring arrived, with more flowers opening every day and the trees putting on their robes of green.
I've been rejoicing in light-filled daffodils and paper whites, glowing in the sunlight. Here are a few before they completely fade away.
The green tide is rising -- verdant green grass, gauzy green bushes, trees either still bare or decking themselves in fancy fringes and furbelows.
The following poem, April Prayer, by Stuart Kestenbaum, struck me as fitting well with these April photos:
Just before the green begins there is the hint of green
a blush of color, and the red buds thicken
the ends of the maple’s branches and everything
is poised before the start of a new world,
which is really the same world
just moving forward from bud
to flower to blossom to fruit
to harvest to sweet sleep, and the roots
await the next signal, every signal
every call a miracle and the switchboard
is lighting up and the operators are
standing by in the pledge drive we’ve
all been listening to: Go make the call.
It's spring -- the voice of the mourning dove is heard in the land. And also robins, redwing blackbirds, tree peepers, and the neighbor's lawn mower. And the trees are blooming, the daffodils glowing, and other spring flowers making their brief appearance on stage.
Sometimes April showers bring April flowers. And May flowers, of course -- the columbine whose leaves have just emerged won't bloom for a few weeks yet. But the early spring flowers are thriving, whether covered with raindrops or not. Daffodils, violets, scilla -- it's spring, at last. Some flowers even smile at the thought!
Wednesday I noticed that a clump of early dark purple crocus had sprung up in one of my flowerbeds. Yesterday morning they responded to the warmth and sunlight by spreading their petals wide, making crisp patterns that glowed even after clouds began covering the sun.
Then the storm front came through and instead of Easter egg cups, we had furled umbrellas. They all closed up -- unless weighted down by a tiny rain puddle.
My approach to contemplative photography --
Tell about it."
Mary Oliver in "Sometimes"