Walk of Faith

The earth is encrusted in a slushy, soggy layer of snow, treacherously slick underfoot. It crunches faintly, with the texture of a half-melted popsicle. Shrubs stand layered in it, their naked fingers spread agape towards the warming sun.

Dear God, it looked like rain yesterday. Do You mean it, or is another series of storms still to blow in and cage us in frustration for the end of the month?

It is, after all, March. The time of lions and lambs.

I began walking, having missed the light for months, it seems. My state of mind has been rendered fragile by cold and darkness. I itch on the inside, across the whole surface of my soul, to see the earth turn black and sloppy in the garden. I will cherish it this year, after two years’ absence from its toil.

I resolve, in walking, to take each day that gives good weather, for so many fail to. Carpe diem, and shake it by the scruff of its neck on top of that. I have so much to catch up on, so much to return to. So many things to start over.

I can complete the dreams I had years ago now, to put in terraced beds along the slopes that run down from house foundations. It won’t help the exterior of the building itself, which is sixty years behind on maintenance — what little was done fifteen years ago, was not helpful. But I think of simple pleasures and lasting beauty, season to season, year to year.

I think of trees — copper-barked Amur cherry. How I love them. Silver willow and bright dogwood. Flowering crabapple. Delightful, robust mugo pine. It occurs to me that I may not make it to a writers’ conference this year, simply because of trees. I would sooner shop for them than clothes or shoes or all the worldly opportunities available.

I go walking, and I watch. It’s time to tell the children to stay off the pond. Hard to know when the ice will weaken, but they may as well start thinking of it now. I saw leaf buds on the lilacs at my parents’ farm awhile back. Lilacs too, we must have lilacs; we have discussed their correct position and use in our somewhat barren landscape. Even the evil, ugly caragana has a purpose: we think that out behind the coal shack a hedgerow could be useful.

I walk, and I watch the snow melt. The birds are different. Active, brilliant in their noise. They change their songs to herald a season before anything else gives a sign — who knows how they know to sing a processional when sleep and silence still reign? The trees change too — branch tips swelling with hope, white poplar bark taking on a wan flush of green. The world knows when life is calling to it.

A few more icy winds may come, but there will be the lush, sharp leaf-spring after, and the rains. The water will gush through the low places of the yard, for we do live on a watershed. The eaves will drip. I may not even care about their aging flaws this year. The clouds will change — are already changing — from thick, blank forms to flamboyant pillows. The sky itself will become something new. That clear, bright late-winter blue which sheds pearlescence on the white evening world will deepen, strengthen, brighten, almost sing. I can almost see it now.

I walk and watch, and my heart waits. I told you winter never lasts; its fury may yet storm our gates, but it cannot prevail. It’s only the absence of the sun, and when the sun returns, the earth bursts forth with a vibrant resurrection.

There will be rainbows. This is the land where they live, after all. They trace the blue and thunderous grey in fine arcs, some years so many that they almost become commonplace. That’s how the air is here — that clear. That’s how wide the vista is. Rain may fall overhead, but miles and miles away, the sky breaks open and the sun pours its light into the water droplets. It rains diamonds here. They can’t be mined or stored or sold. A person can only hope to catch a glimpse, for they belong to God alone. To God belongs the change of season. It vibrates in the air.

My heart waits, but so impatiently; my hope is so sure, and the time so near.