By Katie Helmreich
I love winter, spring, summer, and fall! But March always catches me off guard. For my entire life, it’s come right after February and before April. And it gets me down every single year.
After the snow and ice melt, Michigan is colored with only around three or four shades a dinginess. The brooding gray sky bleeds into the drab brown of dormant trees and matted grass. Empty farm fields, roads, and most buildings are all coated with the same mucky grime. March winds whip small white-topped waves across the creek that nearly surrounds my house, churning steely gray water under stony skies.
Every year a part of me wonders if maybe this is the year spring never comes?
I’ve never been to the moors. Michigan doesn’t have any, but March is how I imagine them, which is why every year, for nearly as long as I can remember, I reread The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
Mrs. Burnett’s vivid descriptions of the seasons and the hope of growing things bring me joy all over again each year. A flicker of life hidden inside the core of the dry branches on a rose bush. The tiny green points poking their heads up through a tangle of dead weeds and decaying leaves… The mist of green among the trees that seems to appear overnight just before leaves burst out of their buds!
The children in the book, Mary and Colin, both appear almost as dried up and lifeless as the garden at first. But as they spend time watching the miracle of growth outdoors they learn and grow themselves. Health and healing take root and smiles bloom until, when they can’t find words to describe their joy, they burst forth singing the Doxology. Their friend, the crotchety old gardener Ben Weatherstaff, blinks away happy tears as he admits he never really understood the point of that before.
Gets me every time. God is good. Even in the moors of March.
Fighting the wind makes me stronger, just like it did for Mary Lennox. March winds may “wuther” around me for a while, but soon they give way to beautifully sunny days!
The Secret Garden urges me to keep watching and hoping. (And I admit, for a while each year, I think of these things in a broad Yorkshire accent.) All seems dead and gray, but spring is coming. The crocuses bloom. The earth smells of growing things again. The water sparkles blue once more and welcomes the returning geese and ducks. God breathes life into the world again and the glory of it all makes me marvel “till I’m fair to burst”!
We experience “seasons” in less predictable orders in our lives. Depression, grief, loss of a job or relationship, illness, and loneliness can make us feel as if we’re stranded out in the steely gray cold of the March wind. We feel as if spring will never come. The rains slash across our hearts and the mud sucks at our feet.
But God is good. Even in March.
Deep in our core, Jesus’s life still flickers within us. Even when all looks dead and drab, our Creator’s love and power sustains and nourishes us. We may not see any changes just yet, but the Holy Spirit is stirring among our roots, urging them ever deeper, building endurance, character, and perseverance until we burst forth with hope once again!
What helps give you courage as you wait for the winds of March to subside? Do you remember the joy of spotting the “first crocus” the last time you went through a challenging season? As life speeds onward sometimes we lose track of just how much we’ve grown, but take a moment to marvel at the growth our Master Gardener has worked in you!
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host:
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
Break forth, my soul, with joy and say:
What wealth has come to me this day!
My Savior dwells within my heart:
How blessed am I! How good Thou art!
The Common Doxology
(LSB #805 and #632, vs 2)