The sun is shining for the first time in I don’t know how long. And thank goodness, because the wintertime blues are often impossible to shake when there isn’t so much as a bright day to persuade you that the world is an okay place to be today.
And then, the subtle, persistent harbingers of spring arrive.
I missed them a few weeks ago when they were pushing themselves up through the ground, and I missed them this past week when their blade-like leaves were bunching together in bright green bundles. But this morning, I finally noticed them.
Daffodils (of the Narcissus genus) were the constant reminder in my childhood that my birthday is just around the corner. As a March baby, I never had the joy of a summer time pool party; neither did I have the comfort of a hearty and cozy wintertime birthday celebration. No, as a March child, I had the (then considered) awkward still-winter-but-not-yet-spring birthday. So these daffodils were the world’s reminder to me that my birthday was worth celebrating. I did not have to be a summer baby to see the brilliance of nature welcoming me to the world, and I did not have to be a winter baby either.
Is is strange (or appropriate) that the reminder of my birthday was a flower whose name comes from a Greek myth, whose protagonist was so obsessed with his image in the reflection of a pool that he either died of starvation or drowned? Perhaps yes, but perhaps not. To a child, whose natural inclination is toward narcissism, isn’t it appropriate that she should see herself in this beautiful flower… or that this flower should naturally celebrate her birth?
And now, as an adult, I can see this flower as the first sign that spring is peeking through. These daffodils are a reminder to me that winter never has the final word, and that spring will always come back… even if it seems like it takes a long long time.
With my birthday just around the corner, too, these flowers remind me of my childhood home, where similar daffodils were planted around the edges of our brick house. They also remind me that if the earth can regenerate and bring forth new life, so can I. I am once again reminded of one of my favorite quotes from Albert Camus: “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” The depth of winter is not on the coldest, cruelest day of the season, but is truly in those last few weeks before spring arrives… when you have almost given up hope that spring ever could be real. When the sun isn’t shining, and the temperature is rising so slowly that you don’t even feel the change on your skin, it’s easy to convince yourself that this is the worst it has ever been. It is easy to convince yourself that it will never get better.
Maybe I’m thinking too much. But for someone who has felt the dearth of sunshine and lightness these past few months, it’s not the worst thing in the world to be taken by surprise by a sunny morning. It’s not the worst thing ever to find yourself suddenly brighter, reminded that spring is around the corner. And it’s certainly not the worst thing in the world to be reminded–even if it’s by a simple flower–that you are a loved child of God who was brought into the world in the still-winter-but-not-yet-spring some years ago.