Late Spring

Robert Leighton’s “Late Spring” seems particularly compelling to me as I look out over our snow-covered yard and desperately try to forget that today is the first full day of spring. I had grown used to a late – sometimes very late! – spring in Minnesota. Our last winter there saw snow showers into early May. But this is Pennsylvania, and the Brandywine River Valley we now call home is in protest.

Which is why Leighton invites us to look not only to our immediate condition – the chilly wind, dormant buds, snow covered terrain – but also to those who share our circumstances and are by God-created nature wiser than us in such matters. For the lark unfailingly trusts that spring is coming and, undeterred by cold and snow, reminds us of spring’s promised arrival.

Nor, I think, is this only a matter of the weather. There are times when our lives feel caught in an endless winter and we wonder if the spring of healing, hope, and renewal will ever come. At such times, we may also look to the heralds God has given us – good friends, a beloved hymn, the proclamation of the gospel in our congregation, someone to pray for us or just hold onto us – whatever it is that may remind us that there is more to this life than we can see, that resurrection follows death, and that God keeps God’s promises.

Late Spring

Spring is with us by the sun,
Yet it has not given us one
Little snow-drop to remind us
That the flowery days are near:
For the winds are blowing chilly,
And the firstling of the year
Slumbers with the sleeping lily,
‘Neath their coverlet, the sere
And sodden mortcloth that old Autumn
Lay with on her bier.

Spring is with us by the date,
And Winter cancell’d: yet we wait
Balmly fingers to unbind us,
Roots and budlets to unfold.
But the herald larks are roaming
Up the heights of blue and gold:
They can see the Spring a-coming
While we shiver in the cold.
Hark! they sing to Him who taught them
Notes so sweet and bold.

Robert Leighton (1822-1869).