How did they know?

brave daffodils

“How did they know,” asks the poet Joyce Rupp, “it was time to push up through the long-wintered soil?”

Not long ago the earth around us was gray and frozen.  Buried in it, the bulbs and seeds of spring were patiently waiting for the right time to emerge.  As most of us muttered, “I’m done with winter,” the new life below was stirring.  The days slowly grew longer, the earth thawed from within and the flowers did what they were created to do—bloom and bring cheer to all who see them. How did they know it was time to push forth from the cold earth and show their splendor?

Whatever their cue, the flowers are right on time and certainly welcome.

These precious buds teach us a few lessons on life.  One: Don’t conclude that all is lost when the world seems dark and foreboding.  Winter appears to be dead and gray, yet the dawning of spring is evidence that life continues even in darkness.  Like Dorothy opening the door to Oz, the colors return and our view is wondrous.  New life, hidden in death, is simply waiting for the right time to emerge.

Two:  We have to wait for most anything that’s worth having.  As the green plants sprouted, what if in our haste we yanked them up to see their full beauty?  We’d kill them if we did.  Instead, we rejoice in their appearance and anticipate their full blossom, assured of their coming beauty.  We wait in complete trust that the flowers will reach their potential, and we know we have to wait.

Three:  Be grateful for all that is beautiful in life.  The Reader’s Digest article, “How the Science of Thank You can Change Your Life” by Deborah Norville, offers clinical proof of what most happy people have found to be true: “Practicing gratitude, acknowledging the blessings in our lives and making it a point to recognize the good things can change us positively.” Dr. Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology at the University of California conducted several studies in which groups of volunteers were asked to focus on one of three things each week: hassles; things for which they were grateful; and ordinary life events. The results: the people who focused on gratitude were just flat-out happier. The study found that people who were consciously grateful felt better about their lives, were more optimistic, energetic, enthusiastic, determined, exercised more, had fewer illnesses, got more sleep, and were more likely to have helped someone else.  Says Barbara Frederickson, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina: “Gratitude has the potential to change everything from its ordinary state to being a gift.”

There are sometimes dark circumstances in life, when there is no apparent “happy ending” in sight.  Like a thunderstorm, the dark clouds roll in.  As with everything in life, this too shall pass.  If we hold fast to the memory of sunny days, we can trust that even in the tempest, new possibilities will rise.  It may not be on our schedule, but spring always comes ‘round again.  As our poet sings:

“There’s a hope-filled place in me that also knows when to rise.

It is urged by the strong sun warming my wintered heart….

Like the dormant tulips my heart stirs, and hope comes dancing forth.”

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