Our Lenten springtime

This is the season when late winter oozes gently into early spring. The weather is generally milder; the days visibly lengthening, with the sunshine that little bit stronger. In my little garden, the few crocuses which managed to evade the squirrels are in full flower (hurrah!), and the narcissi are beginning to spread their slender golden blooms. Around the corner in Brook Green, some snowdrops are still standing, pale heads delicately bowing, while other corners are carpeted by dozens of gloriously blooming crocuses - buttery yellow and purple, some white, others exquisitely veined in lilac. And here and there, in the tiny, tight buds on next door's magnolia, I can detect slivers of pink, and the early promise of a March profusion. 

April, named for Latin's aperire, to open, may well be the month of spring in its fullness, but the first tentative opening and unfurling begins now...

... Except for when it doesn't! Last weekend I bought two small bunches of daffodils, their flowers still firmly sheathed buds, and gave one to a sister in this road who had been unwell. That evening she sent me a photo of emerging gold; by the following morning they were resplendently, widely open. I was so glad I had given her that particular bunch, because my own daffodils - to my surprise - were still closely furled. It took a few more hours before the first, brave flower began to emerge; and several more before a couple of its companions hesitantly started to follow its example. 

I did my best to coax them all. What, I asked them, were they afraid of? Their timidity was puzzling, but it was also somewhat lovely to be able to observe, as though in slow motion, their achingly slow journey into full openness. And to reflect on my own hesitancy and achingly slow journey into holiness and the fullness with God which I most deeply desire. What am I afraid of...?

And in a few days' time it will be Lent, that great, challenging journey with Christ which offers us conversion and grace, transformation and renewal. It is also our springtime with God: our time for unfurling and opening; for growth, stretching and widening; for noticing and cultivating the fresh green shoots within us, and for allowing God's glorious dream for us to come ever closer to fruition. All this awaits us, if we can only overcome our fears,  hesitations and timidity... So, let's pray for and encourage one other, especially during this blessed season.