A congregation of the United Church of Canada
April 6, 2022
I was putting my recycling and trash at the curbside this morning when it struck me that something was different. As I was walking back toward the house I figured it out. It felt like spring. The air was different. I paused for a moment, and I heard all sorts of birds noisily chirping away. I felt the breeze. It no longer had that sting of chill in it. It was soft, and gentle, and warm. I took a deep, deep breath and closed my eyes and looked up into the sun and felt it beaming down on my face as my hair tussled in the wind. I was beaming too – from ear to ear. Spring! Finally! The long range forecast shows no nights falling below zero for the next two weeks. I’m not quite ready for shorts and a beach umbrella yet – but there’s no denying it anymore. Spring has sprung. Praise God!
And then I saw it. It was just leaning there, minding its own business, but its presence disturbed my peace. Here I was revelling in the joyousness of a changing season and there it was reminding me of what was. I didn’t want the reminder. I wanted to leave that season behind. But the echoes of it remain, stubbornly refusing to go quietly. There was only one thing to do. It had to go. ‘It’ was a snow shovel. It was dutifully holding it’s post outside our front door ready to spring (pardon the pun) into action and help us clear away the snow from our steps and walkway. It was a good and useful tool, in its season. But this is not that season. We were grateful for it in its time, but that time had passed. It was time to put what was to rest, and embrace the new. So into the garage it went.
If only our spiritual turnings could be so easy. It’s actually pretty easy to turn and enter into a new season, spiritually. Usually they emerge and envelop you and it all feels like a beautiful and natural flow of spirit and energy. And then, inevitably, we see some of the ‘tools’ of our former way – our habits, our attachments, our initial reactions – and they remind us of things we’d rather leave behind. They disturb our peace. If only they were as easy to put away as my shovel was. But sometimes they don’t go quietly. Sometimes, even though we’ve ‘turned’ and embraced a new season, they keep popping up like a whack-a-mole clamouring for our attention.
The only real strategy is to keep on keeping on. Keep immersing yourself in the new season and the former season will eventually fade from view. Keep intentionally opening your heart to God’s loving presence and that presence will increasingly fill you. In another month it’ll be hard to even remember the chill of winter, because we’ll be so fully ensconced in spring. But if we let ourselves dwell too much on what was we may find ourselves wintering when we could be springing. The turning part is easy – staying on the journey and living a new season, a new way, takes work. Thankfully, we don’t have to do it alone. We have one another! And we have the constant presence of God, nudging us, sustaining us, and urging us to put away our shovels.