Spring is Coming

By Nancy Jo Sullivan

Yesterday, I took a long walk and noticed that many people were out in their yards. Like me, they were probably escaping the confinement of their homes and the non-stop reports of a global pandemic.

I was happy to take a break from working at home. Most of the winter snow had melted and I could hear birds singing. The winds of March were chilly, but the sunlight felt warm. “Spring is coming.” I thought.

One man was taking down Christmas tree lights from the trees in his yard. “Finally got around to this…” he called out to me from his ladder. From the street I laughed. “I still have lights on my deck,” I said.

Next door, a young mom was sitting in front of a small bonfire. Wearing a hooded sweatshirt, she held a cup of coffee while watching her children roast marshmallows. She waved to me and smiled. “The kids were driving me crazy. I had to get creative,” she said. “I remember those days,” I called out to her.

Soon, I passed a brick rambler and saw a little girl dancing in front of a long hedge, its branches bare and brown. She was wearing a pink jacket, dance slippers and a satin skirt with silver sparkles. Smiling, she glided across her yard, leaping and twirling. With arms outstretched, she hummed a little song.

Her joy, so innocent and pure, opposed the virus that had locked down our entire neighborhood and crippled the world. Her song sounded like a hymn, rising to heaven.

As I made my way toward home, it felt as if I had experienced a powerful moment of grace. Through this little girl, God was reminding me that joy, the kind that comes from heaven, is not dependent on circumstances.

The scriptures tell us that the “joy of the Lord is our strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10) Perhaps this means that true joy is rooted in a belief that we are not alone, and that God’s presence is with us always. Even in the dark valleys of COVID-19.

Though these are difficult days, we can find the joy of the Lord in unexpected places. It lives in the smiles and waves of our neighbors and in the familiar voices we hear on our cell phones. It can be found in the prayers and hymns we offer, and in the dance of faith we share.

Someday soon, the hedges in our yards will sprout with flowers. Christmas tree lights will be replaced with budding trees. Soon we will no longer be bound by the mandates of social distancing. Instead, we will gather around bonfires and dining room tables and altars set with bread and wine.

But while we wait for God to heal our world, let us rejoice that the Kingdom of God is in our midst.

Today, consider taking a long walk. See the ways in which the Lord’s joy is reaching out to you. And remember, Spring is coming.