"How many million Aprils came
before I ever knew
how white a cherry bough could be,
a bed of squills, how blue
And many a dancing April
when life is done with me,
will lift the blue flame of the flower
and the white flame of the tree
Oh burn me with your beauty then,
oh hurt me tree and flower,
lest in the end death try to take
even this glistening hour..."
- Sara Teasdale, Blue Squills, 1920
Beauty can burn. In real time, the slow, pensive exhale of spring can be a piercing experience for the heart that has been frozen by an unyielding winter. Like a bird landing at last from its migratory frenzy, there is that screeching halt as the yoke of endurance bumps up against our back with a thud. For some of us, coping had become an involuntary rumination that took us over bit by bit while we thought we were living freely. We pined, plotted, and planned for a balmy breeze after a freshening rain, but the abruptness of this realized dream can covertly emerge as a confrontational solicitation rather than a relief. Suddenly, there is spring.
Learning the ways of our hearts is a Divine curriculum with a patient but relentless Head Master Who never leaves the classroom. Every year, my biggest test is in the spring. Most people view spring as the awakening of a new year, but for me it a reckoning. It fleshes out the level of the willingness for purpose I have retained in the measurement of winter. Everything in the universe is wrapped up in earnestness. Without it we are blank, barren, canvases, glaringly vacant, the darkest white there is.
Springtime at dusk is a time of wandering for me. I am faced with the harvest of a season of cold planting. I walk through this analysis in solitary honesty. I see patches of bare ground where I recoiled and stubbornly pressed into the earth in a curled form rather than eagerly looking up into a beautiful, stark sky, whipping with blistering hues of blues and grays of wind and power. I stand before each of these puny memorials and contemplate the losses I suffered in those moments. I do this so I can understand the gain I am to glean from them now.
In the low light of a velvety springtime evening I can see the contrast of this backdrop of blossoming vibrancy against the lonely echoes of deep doubts and unfruitful trails that loomed before me in previous months. I leaned into that more than is comfortable to admit, but I admit it anyway. I lament the time I spent there, wasting precious seconds on the foolish pursuit of control. The softness of a springtime twilight beckons me to shed the mummy cloths I used as wrappings. It breathes on me and they fall to the ground one by one. My skin is on fire. My mind is ablaze. The thaw takes over.
There is no place to hide in spring. It reveals you. It undresses you. It slithers between your teeth and your fingers. My hair falls down and my skirt billows in the thousands of questions spring demands of me. Who am I? Am I weak and flinching, or am I bold and anchored? Did the best of me dissolve in the long stale moments of winter or did it become more potent awaiting its release? Did I die in the dark days of winter or did I become reminded to really live in the light?
How we exist during the longest moments are a surefire way to discover how much potency we have to bring to the shorter ones. Spring opens the door, but winter reveals us. Darting behind the creaking, dormant tress of winter never really hid me. It exposed me. The more I covered up in the winter, the more naked I would be in the spring, when I am called up to the line to account for the long moments of testing. Spring is measurement, but it is also mercy. I'm engulfed in sweet floral aromas drawn out by the warmth of the sun, and my loneliness is eclipsed by a springtime moon.
Spring is my benevolent exam for the winter I have studied. I have found myself at least partially lacking. Thank You, Adonai, that I have discovered this. It is in this moment of confession that spring can find me and blow freely through my hair. I smile because I am no longer hidden, and because I can clearly see my secret foxholes for what they are. Temporary shelters are only good as Sukkahs. I smile straight toward the spring sunset challenging me. I see it. I see me.
Winter is gone. Spring is here.