Shhh. Listen. Do you hear it? Look around. Do you see it? Do you smell it? Do you recognize it? Spring! Arriving in all its splendor. Lawnmowers hum as they come out of storage to groom our yards. Conversations flow across cul-de-sacs as neighbors emerge from hibernation and reconnect with each other. There’s the laughter of children resonating throughout neighborhoods as they set aside indoor games for bicycles and baseball bats. Have you heard the birds, thanking us for refilling those feeders and welcoming them back? A vibrant color palette is emerging around us, filling our yards with bursts of pink, white, yellow and red; while blooms like jasmine and early spring roses offer a sweet fragrance. Look up. The sky seems bluer, don’t you think? Perhaps because it serves as a backdrop for the blossoming fruit trees and budding green leaves emerging from once barren branches. Things are stirring. We’re meeting each other more frequently on the greenbelt trails and in the fitness centers as we work off the extra pounds we collected over the holidays. Is it my imagination or is there really more traffic on the roads? I suppose we’re out and about more, busy with activities that warmer weather brings. Indoors, we’re focused on clearing out the clutter, discarding what is no longer needed, then cleaning up and organizing our closets, our garages, maybe even our lives. Outside, hibiscus, wisteria, bougainvillea, rose bushes, various shrubs and even the trees are coming face to face with the pruning sheers of determined gardeners. When we discard clutter and get our homes in shape, we see immediate results. Pruning, on the other hand, requires knowledge and optimism along with time and patience. My husband - the family gardener - approaches the plants with sharpened clippers, carefully examining each one to determine its health and potential for growth. Then he proceeds to cut. Oh, it’s not just a little nip here and a tuck there. He cuts, and cuts, and cuts again. But, what seems like the end, so he assures me, is only preparation for a new growing season as he nurtures those plants and encourages their healthy development. I want to be supportive and appreciative of his interest and dedication to grooming our yard and providing such beautiful blooms year after year; so, my task is to patiently trust him and wait for his plan to unfold. Knowing that’s not always an easy task for me, he gently turns my attention from the present loss to future possibilities. We begin to talk about the potential for these plants as he reminds me of other pruning times that paved the way for beautiful, fragrant flowers in past years. As I look around the yard through my own eyes, right now I see what is: plants with less limbs and few leaves or buds. However, when I gaze through the eyes of an experienced, disciplined gardener, I see what can be. A new season is unfolding and our hearts are stirring. Maybe it’s the new life budding around us. It could be the reconnection with others after the solitude of winter. The warmer weather and increased sunlight, perhaps? This may also be a time of spiritual renewal as we are reminded of God’s love for us and his hand at work in our lives, pruning, shaping, nurturing and preparing us to bloom just as he designed. I hope you’ll take time from the busyness of the day to pause, look around and enjoy the gifts God has given you. The beauty of nature. The warmth of connection with others. The joy of new beginnings. Blessing upon blessing. Some things will be with you for only a short time. How sad if you let them slip by. Look within and see how God has been pruning, shaping, nourishing and preparing you. Then trust him as you wait and watch his plan for you unfold in this new season of your life. “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 2:17, The Bible). Shhh. Listen. Look around. Look within. The cold, dark night of winter has ended, and joy has come in the morning of Spring. Celebrate!

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