When our hearts are wintry, grieving, or in pain,
Thy touch can call us back to life again;
Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.
~ From the hymn Now the Green Blade Riseth
Last autumn I came home with some small outdoor plants I'd bought cheaply. My green-fingered sister obligingly found them bigger pots, and a sheltered spot in the garden, in which they could spend the winter. The passion flower instantly started stretching and thriving, and had to be restrained from curling its tendrils around some neighbouring herbs in a bout of over-familiarity. But after an initially promising start the clematis suddenly sickened, becoming nothing more than a few bare, dry sticks with some wizened leaves hanging limply, as though at half-mast over their own demise.
Though why should I be so surprised? This, after all, is what early spring does, every year, its greening and promise stealthily seeping into what had previously seemed so barren, but was in fact teeming with as-yet unrevealed new life. And of course, this is how God can work in my life and yours, grace and strength coming sometimes as fire, and others as a gentle, gradually deepening infusion. And thus Love comes again, and again, in tenderness and compassion and care; in every outstretched hand, every consoling word; in ways that can still surprise us, even after decades of being surprised. Love comes, bringing hope and covenant's fulfillment and quiet joy...
And, heralded or not, Love is already come again, like a dying clematis that springeth green...