The joys of spring

Last Friday evening I looked out of our prayer room window and noticed the first, still-furled blossoms on our magnolia tree. A few hours later I discovered that my friend Cloister had noticed and been energised by the same thing. Yesterday morning, as the community drove out of Oxford, we commented on the spring blossoms... and later, in a side street in Sheen we noticed another two magnolias, also beginning to bloom. I'm now looking forward to my walk to the station later this week, which takes me past Worcester College: instead of hurrying past, head down, I'll look up as I round the corner, at the overhanging magnolia, which last spring flowered a week or so ahead of ours.

This morning the sun blazed into my room. I flung my window wide open, stripped my bed and felt all springlike and cheerful. I walked to Mass beneath brilliant blue skies and more blossom, carrying the jacket I'd needlessly brought just in case it turned out not to be as warm as it had seemed. All around me I saw and felt sunshine, springiness and cheer: if you'll pardon the pun there was a spring in many a step! My friends' Facebook statuses confirm this, while now, from my window, all I can hear is birdsong and families in the park - we are all, it seems, full of the joys of spring!

Spring... in Italian and Spanish it's primavera, in French printemps: gentle, delicate words, full of new beginnings and "firstness". And so it should be: although spring doesn't come first in our calendar year, it is first in our natural cycle of birth - life - maturity - death and finally burial, in ground which is both a grave and a womb.

But there's nothing gentle or tranquil about our word spring! As a verb it is all about energy and movement: we spring into the air and spring surprises; ideas spring into our heads and groups spring up into being. Spring as a word is always about moving forwards, never back, about energy and impetus, never about being still; as a noun it can mean an outflow of water, the source of a stream which can eventually become a gushing river. It is also about being released into movement, as in what happens to a spring (another noun). According to my dictionary this is a device... that stores potential energy when it is compressed... and releases it when the restraining force is removed.

If ever there was a perfect description of what is happening all around us and within us, this is surely it!


  1. Lent is an old English word meaning "quickening",i.e. new life beginning. So Lent is not only an austere time of "giving up, doing something extra, turning away from our sinfulness" etc., but of experiencing the new life that is on its way, and bursts forth in its fulness at Easter, with the Resurrection and in nature.


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