Spring Ahead

“We say that flowers return every spring, but that is a lie. It is true that the world is renewed.  It is also true that that renewal comes at a price, for even if the flower grows from an ancient vine, the flowers of spring are themselves new to the world, untried and untested.  The flower that wilted last year is gone. Petals once fallen are fallen forever.  Flowers do not return in the spring, rather they are replaced.  It is in this difference between returned and replaced that the price of renewal is paid.  And as it is for spring flowers, so it is for us.”  – Daniel Abraham, The Price of Spring


We moved the clocks ahead last weekend, a curious modern ritual designed to maximize daylight time and save energy.  We call it “springing ahead”, in the hope and anticpation of spring renewal.  And it has been a long cold winter; I am looking forward to sunshine and warmer temperatures and the reds and yellows and pinks of blooms and birds to chase away the blues of winter.  I am looking for the promise of renewal. 

But we also “lost” and hour, the cost of daylight savings.  For anyone who has experienced loss, it is a reminder that time is our most precious gift.  How much time have I “lost” from living as I grapple with issues of grieving and try to balance all of my new responsibilities?  It seems that life moves at warp speed now, but nothing gets done, and the time for just “being”, for just living, is non-existent…there is always too much to do and not enough hours to do them.  I am overwhelmed and exhausted.

I cannot believe it has been over eight months, and I have not done thank you notes, or designed and ordered a tombstone, or cleaned out the cupboards of pink razors or the cabinets of unnecessary medical supplies, or the refrigerator of bottles of Ensure.  A girls bike still leans against the garage wall, flat tires and rusty chain; what good is a bike without its rider?  And no girls live here anymore…

And the siding still has holes in it, the roof is still missing shingles, the car has still not passed inspection or been replaced, and the taxes have not been started…

I need a small symbol of progress, a distraction from duty, something to focus on and to see through to completion, as an antidote to the slow nibbles at my bigger issues that never seem to get any closer, like the mountains so far off in the distance.  A Groupon email advertises canvas photo prints, 83% off, and it sparks an idea.  Deb was the interior designer, she did a great job, and had the time to put into doing a good job.  But one wall remains sparse, and I want to make it mine.  So in between spreadsheet updates and chores, while running or running the kids to the dentist, I plot my wall…

The pictures are chosen carefully – the two biggest are the 16×20 canvas photos.  The first is my favorite photo from my solo rafting, biking, hiking adventure in the Escalante.  It was taken after I had a scare that I wouldn’t be able to complete the trip; but I made it through the doubts to emerge to a scene of breathtaking beauty and accomplishment.  It is a reminder that I am strong and can handle challenges.  The second canvas photo is of the Light in Zion, breaking through the overcast and setting the canyon walls on fire – a symbol of my promise to live more from the heart.  Next is a smaller picture of an incredible sunset we enjoyed as a family from Joshua Tree National Park, the best family vacation we had, and a reminder of Deb and our good times and the joy of family togetherness.  There is also a picture of the stunning sunrise I enjoyed with the boys from our recent trip to Arizona, and the promise of better days to come for the three of us.  The final  picture is a close up of the scarlet blooms of the claret cup cactus, a reminder that even in the thorny and barren desert there is beauty; it all depends on where you choose to focus.  And in the middle of my medley are candles to light the way when things seem dark.

I am happy when it is complete.  I finish it late one night, after the kids are in bed; they don’t even notice it in the morning.  Nor will most guests notice it, it is not that big of a deal – to them.  But it means a lot to me; it is a symbol, however small, of moving forward, to not look at the top of the mountains that stand in front of me, but to focus on the next small steps.

I would like to just stop right here and enjoy my accomplishment, however small, but normal life collapses in on me.  No hot water for two days, my muffler falls off, boy #1 get suspended (again) and needs braces, the shower is leaking, the gutters are falling off, and my database doesn’t work.  Sigh.   The small accomplishment of my wall quickly seems so long ago and insignificant…
And so it is that before “daylight savings time” there was light on the horizon as I pedaled home from the gym or from a run in the mornings, and there was even the first birdsong of the season by the time I had finished my prayers and meditation.  Hope for the renewal of spring was visible!  Then we “lost’ an hour, and it is back to pitch dark again, and the progress towards spring has been set back; it will take another 5 weeks before the sun is on the horizon again.
But even in the dark, I can feel spring coming.  When I return to to the house and pass my wall, there is an internal smile and a bit of pride in my accomplishment.  Baby steps, for sure, but at least it is springing ahead…
“I realized, it is not the time that heals, but what we do within that time that creates positive change.” – Diane Dettmann, Twenty-Eight Snow Angels: A Widow’s Story of Love, Loss and Renewal

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