Isn’t it beautiful when spring arrives? Even that blanket of yellow dust on every surface is lovely. As suffocating as it can be, pollen points to change, to winter coming to an end. Soon after, every tree, bush, flower and blade of grass awakens to the warmth of spring. When pollen season hits, everything lying in wait of warm weather comes bursting forth. The colors are vibrant. Flowers bloom. Grass is green. It’s a stunning sight after the bareness of winter.
We know what pollen brings. Pollen signals a natural segue to life. Does anyone actually care about that wave of pollen after flowers start blooming? We all know the sights, tastes, sounds and smells of spring. We know the life it brings.
But eventually, after summer’s warmth and the cool of fall, winter sets in again. Everything that came to life in the spring has run its cycle and dies again. Winter brings crunchy leaves. Pine needles become pine straw, and the colors of fall turn to grays and browns. Trees are bare. Forests seem quite vulnerable, with every branch on display, light touching places it just couldn’t reach in the fullness of summer.
There’s a certain line of trees on the farm I grew up on that I’m reminded of when I think about winter. Several years ago, I took my dog for a walk down my parents’ road, a road I had walked umpteen times in my life, and I noticed a field I had never paid attention to before.
My family didn’t own it, so my childhood farm adventures never took me to explore it. The pine trees had shed all of their needles, and I could see straight through to the other side. In the distance, I could see a high school football field, the silver lights shining in the sunshine, matching the height of the trees nearby.
It wasn’t until winter that I could see clearly just how close we were to the local high school. I never realized it until all the trees were bare.
I think God created seasons to show us more about our lives. Some things remain hidden until the thick of winter.
It’s in the winters of our lives — the hardest times, the toughest times, the loneliest times — that everything feels lifeless and stripped bare. We’re vulnerable. Exposed. The tiniest bit of light shining on us displays the hurt, the grief, the regret, the despair, the bitterness we feel. And it seems like those in close proximity can see right through us, no matter how hard we try to hide.
But there’s always more if we look past the surface. There’s so much good to be found in winter.
That same feeling of vulnerability can be used as a tunnel to our own heart. Things we didn’t even know we were capable of, whether good or bad, are suddenly uncovered. There’s an unfamiliar clarity we can use to our advantage if we take a moment to see it.
Winter sets the stage for the life that comes with spring. Ann Bradstreet once said, “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant.” How true that is. Spring is always right around the corner. You will never see a winter that doesn’t have spring following behind it. Spring is coming. Spring is here.
If we stay in this mindset that winter will last forever, we’ll miss the glimpses of a new season coming. Change is hard. Especially when winter has become comfortable. But God sends agents of change that make us feel uncomfortable, the “pollen,” if you will, and it sometimes seems anything but lovely. It will make us sneeze, make our eyes water and make us have to wash our car more. It’s a huge nuisance more than anything else.
But if we can embrace life’s “pollen,” the uncomfortable means by which we make a change, knowing it brings life and life more abundant, we can notice the growth. What we once thought was dead has come alive again, and it’s morebeautiful than ever.
Spring is here, and it so lovely.