I Love the Spring (March 2016)

I love the Spring.  Trees which formerly looked cold and lifeless, with branches completely bare through the winter, now in the spring produce green shoots, leaves appear, and soon we will have blossom sprouting too.  They might have looked dead, but they certainly were not, and now are full of signs of life.  And it is wonderful to celebrate the resurrection and Easter when this transformation is happening in the world around us.  The Church’s calendar also takes us through seasons, from the waiting of Advent to the becoming life among us at Christmas, to the penitent self-examination of Lent, to the crucifixion and resurrection at Easter.  I love Spring, but I think part of the enjoyment is because it comes after we have been through Winter.  If there was only one season through the year, and that was Spring, we would not enjoy the new growth, we would not appreciate the life and development and transformation it brings quite the same.

Our spiritual lives can go through the same process of renewal and coming to life after a ‘dormant’ period.  It is as if God always works in the world, in nature, in our own lives by the same process – descending into a quieter, slower period, and then rising up to a phase of life and hope and transformation.  When we are going through a spiritual winter, it can feel very hard to pray, it can feel like the God we are talking to doesn’t want to listen.  It can be the spiritual equivalent of wading through treacle.  When we reach times of growth in our walk with God, we are more alive to his working within us, we see hope everywhere we look – it is like every prayer has special meaning, and we see his work bearing fruits all around us.  I wish my spiritual life was always like that, but it isn’t, and perhaps – like the seasons of the year – we have to go through times in our prayer life when we are wading through treacle, in order to come skipping out the other side and experiencing his joy and hope in all we see.

Sometimes if it feels like a spiritual winter, we are in a rut with God.  In such circumstances, it can be really helpful to change the way we pray.  Our prayers do not always have to be words.  Sometimes it is helpful to pray with our eyes open, to use our sight to pray – look around you, look at a picture, look and the world around, and use images to help you connect with God, to know that he is here, and he is at work in your life and in others’ lives.  And it is good to use all our senses to pray – not just sight, or hearing, but touch, taste, smell.  Eat your meal a little slower, and notice the taste.  Smell things around you more.

‘Come taste and see that the Lord is good’, …the Psalmist said (Ps 34.8)

So this spring, may we connect with him more, whether in what we feel, in what we see, what we hear, what we touch or taste or smell. And through those experiences, let us know his resurrection working in the world and in our own lives.

Tina Upton

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