Whatever your despair or your frustration—this, too, will pass.
~ Grace Noll Crowell, This, Too, Will Pass
"Ma-aa-ma!" Anna, my daughter, stands outside peering in the bay window, her hands and face pressed snugly against the glass. "Come here!" she calls.
I am sprawled on the sofa. "Get your hands off the window," I say, scolding.
"Mama, I need you to come here," she says, her breath fogging up the pane.
"Anna, can't you see I’m resting. My back's killing me. Please, go swing."
She frowns, but doesn't budge.
"Look what you're doing to the window," I tell her, my voice testy.
"Ma'am?” She presses her ear to the glass.
"The window! Look at it! Daddy just cleaned it yesterday!” I am shouting.
Retreating one step, Anna puts her hands on her hips and says, "Mama, this is real important. Come look at what I found. It's a surprise."
“No," I say firmly. I'm gonna lay here awhile. Maybe in a few minutes.”
I feel like a beastly mother, ignoring my child's call to adventure, and yet I can't bring myself to move.
With a dejected look, Anna scuttles off toward the great maple tree in the backyard, leaving her smudgy prints on the glass and an ache in my heart.
It is the first time she's been out to play in several weeks. Winter has finally struck Texas, ushering in cold drizzles and a hard freeze. The yard lies desolate, depressing. No color. No foliage. No life. So when I spied strips of rosy sun stretching across the bedroom floor this morning, I bundled my daughter from head to toe and shooed her out the door. She would play, while I rested.
The past two months have found me grappling with back pain—something I've done off and on for most of my adult life. The problem stems from a number of things—all out of my control. At times the pain is almost unbearable. Take it easy and stay in bed, the doctor tells me. But how does a mother of a preschooler do such a thing? In spite of Anna's valiant attempts to help me, she can't understand the extent of my discomfort. Just getting out of bed is often an effort. When the pain worsens, my mood plummets. Today, I have reached a point where hopelessness reigns. I long for relief.
Gazing out at the naked trees, I watch my daughter dawdle in the dirt beneath the maple. This towering tree is a beauty in summer. Its boughs, heavy with leaves, provide an oasis of shade for my family. Now it stands barren, stripped, its branches painfully stark.
In a minute, Anna is back at the window. "Come look, Mama!" she yells. "Quick!"
It sounds urgent, but I know every timbre of my daughter's voice so well. This is pure excitement. Probably nothing more than an ant traveling south. I pretend to be asleep. Maybe she'll go away.
She doesn't. "Mama! Get up! Please!” Her small voice lifts with each sentence.
How can I resist such a persuasive plea? Even the most dreadful mothers have a breaking point. Warily, I shuffle across the floor and out the back door, holding on to my aching back.
A blast of winter's wind stings my eyes. Anna beams when she sees me. Standing there, parka framing her small head, her face resembles a hooded street lamp.
"Over here, Mama.” She waves her arms about her head, her breath making flimsy clouds. "You won't believe it!"
With sluggish movements, I plod to the foot of the tree, stare down at the lawn. Once plush and green, it now crunches under my feet, prickly and brown. "What is it, sweetie? What do you want to show me?"
“Right there, Mama," she says, barely above a whisper.
I look down in the direction she points, but I see nothing except cold, hard ground. "What? Where?" I ask, feeling foolish.
Without speaking, Anna drops to her knees—almost reverently—and gently touches something. She glances back over her shoulder at me, but says nothing. Her round face takes on an ethereal quality.
Not wanting to break the spell, I crouch beside her, closely inspecting the ground. And then I see it. Pushing up through the bitter earth, is the fresh green shoot of a jonquil.
Like my daughter, I am awed. How? I wonder. How could it be coming up now? Jonquils aren't due for another month or two. But it is there. In the palm of winter's icy hand, surrounded by total barrenness, a sprig of green stands straight as an arrow. I know in a few weeks the jonquil will be in full bloom, its yellow head bobbing in the breeze.
Despite the fact that I am wearing my pink chenille bathrobe and my hair is slightly askew, the moment seems sacred, God's presence near.
I think of the Scripture: "To everything, there is a season.” Season. The word comforts me somehow. For I realize that seasons not only have beginnings, but endings, each one having served its purpose. We travel from summer's grueling heat to winter's biting cold, enjoying the pleasant; enduring the unpleasant.
For a moment I ponder this. Yes, life is made up of seasons—blissful seasons; seasons of anguish; prosperous seasons; seasons of want. Like winter's chill, none of them is permanent. And, they all serve a purpose. "For we know that all things work together for good to them that love God" (Romans 8:28).
Kneeling in the dirt with my daughter, I sense God has brought me to the foot of this barren tree to give me hope: Whenever you find yourself in the midst of a bitter season, remember the jonquil. Spring will come. And nothing can stop it!
A chilly wind sweeps across the yard, ruffling the tip of the green sprig. I turn to Anna and pull her close. She seems to read my heart and holds me for a long while, the afternoon sun wrapping around us like a warm blanket.
From the book, Whispers From Heaven by Dayle Allen Shockley.
archives, I thought it appropriate to the coming of spring. I'm happy to be linking up with Charlotte and Ginger for Spiritual Sundays. The Man and I are on the road, so Internet is sometimes scarce, but I hope to be able to visit all of the Sunday crowd.