seeing growth in grayscale days

Unexpected spring in January definitely makes it on my list of favorite things – it’s right up there with camping at White Rock, new wool socks, baking bread, and the smell of dirt.

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Today it’s 65 degrees and sunny and perfect. Ridley Dog and I went to Gulley Park and I prayer-walked while he made friends with each dog we encountered. I prayed for friends and for ministry and for the people who financially make my ministry possible. Then we sat on a bench to rest in the warm sun and soak in gratitude.

I needed this day.

Not just a day to focus on my relationship with the Lord, but a day of warmth and light and promise. A day to turn off the heat and throw open the french doors leading to the porch. Despite the brown grass and bare trees around me, today is a reminder that spring is coming. The gray skies and cold winds will not last forever, and in just a couple of months, life will be revealing itself all around us. Life that is right now being kept in the ground to form roots and hide from winter. That life is beginning to grow right now, though to look around the yard you might not see it.

I forget about that aspect of growth, sometimes – that it’s not always visible. Eric and I planted tulips in our yard last October, and I had practically forgotten about them until today, when I started daydreaming about spring’s arrival. Right now, there’s nothing to be said for those bulbs except that there are patches of dirt where grass has not quite grown back over the holes we dug. I wouldn’t want those flowers to sprout today; knowing Arkansas weather, we will have a chance of snow in the forecast within the next week. The flowers would last for a day or two, then be killed by the winter we still have left before they fully bloomed. I want those bulbs to continue rooting themselves into the dirt, shoots holding fast to soil and bulbs beginning to unfurl in preparation for March. I trust that they are growing, but I won’t know for sure until green shoots emerge from the dirt.

Growth isn’t always something we can know. We can’t capture the moment it moves from nothing to something or stagnant to active.  It usually starts out in ways invisible to us, yet growth is happening nonetheless. In the midst of a dark winter, I need that reminder. I need to know that something is sprouting. This taste of spring, however short it may be, will keep me looking ahead to the time when we can peel off coats and dust off bicycles and see the fruit of what was happening in the dirt all this time. It gives me hope even while looking through  the grayscale that often filters the world during this time of the year.

Life abounds, even in the midst of winter. Even when all looks brown and dead, life can be found.

Not only do I need to know that for the world around me, but I need to know that for the heart in me.

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