A gloomy gray rainy day creates such a strange feeling of gleeful melancholy, the sort of feeling that makes you want to wrap up in a blanket and read dusty old books with a cup of Earl Grey tea. A breezy and bright sunny day makes me want to walk around outside without any shoes on and take hundreds of photos of trees and clouds.
Of course, it’s a place those of us in the Deep South have been in for a while. Winter was rather painfully mild this year. Indeed, I wonder if Winter was little more than a tepid prelude for what bodes to be a tempestuous vernal season.
Thinking of what springtime means for us (those of us here in the Northern Hemisphere who are entering the season now) I am also given to consider a question my 8-year-old son asked me a few days ago.
As I was tucking him into bed for the night, he asked what Heaven was like. Of course, I gave him the quick “Sunday School” answer. I was tired from a long day, and eager to sink into sleep myself, so I didn’t give his question the attention it deserved. But he pressed me further, not satisfied with a vague aphorism.
So I thought about it for a moment, the gears of my mind straining back into some semblance of function, and I told him that Heaven is like the springtime. “It’s when all things become new again, everything that is broken is repaired and all that was once dead awakens into everlasting life.”
I think that was kind of esoteric for him, because I found out he was after something more in the way of detailed schematics. Like, exact dimensions and layout of the various realms and principalities of paradise. I told him he’d have to wait, because flowery rhetoric is all I’ve got to go on for the time being.
But I started to think on it more as I lay awake in bed.
Yearning seems built into humanity, it is a sense that is as “hardwired” into our psyches as happiness or laughter. We are designed to yearn for something. We are built knowing that we are more than the mere sum of our parts. The yearning is intertwined with every culture that has ever existed, irrespective of how remote.
In the prophecy of Isaiah it says that God will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground. “I will pour my Spirit upon your seed, and my blessing on your offspring. They shall spring up like grass amid waters, like willows by flowing streams.”
The seasons cannot be resisted, only endured. We cannot hold up our hands to our planet’s axis tilt and say: “No thanks, I’d rather spring not come right now.” To spring, like everything, there is a time and a purpose that surpasses our own inclination.
We mark this time with venerable days and holy observances. In just a couple weeks we’ll mark the holiest day of the year, when the One we call the “Dayspring” emerged from the darkness and conquered death for all time. This is how I think of Heaven: awakening from a cold, dark sleep into the golden perfection of life and perfect harmony. To be re-born and arise into new life, life eternal.
A few months back I was sitting out on my porch with a notebook, jotting down some musings in a notebook. On a drizzly morning in early February I wrote: “All the trees sag, sleeping miserably in the cold wet gray of winter.”
The natural world reflects our yearning with it own. That the winter, no matter how fierce its bitter chill, will soon bow and yield to spring’s resplendence.
We also await this hope, that the darkness of our age will, in time, be illuminated by a hope that springs eternal.