My daffodils started blooming at the tail end of February. Now they are a glorious riot of yellow, peach, orange, and white, with more opening every day. Their bright and sunny faces, always turned toward the sun, even when it’s hidden behind clouds, are a daily delight, stirring hope in my heart.
I live in Washington State, 20 miles from the epicenter of our Corona virus outbreak. A week after our quarantine began, my first tulip bloomed, an Apricot Beauty. I have been waiting a long time for these tulips. For two years each time I attempted to order them, the bulbs were sold out. Finally, last summer, I managed to get my order in on time. They were worth waiting for. They’re even more beautiful than I expected—a blushing apricot exterior and inside darker peach tones around a pale yellow core from which the stamens rise. I did not expect them to be the first tulips to bloom—much less that we would be in quarantine when they did and that their beautiful blossoms would be a balm to my anxious spirit, heralds of hope, of more life and beauty to come.
Across the street, my neighbor’s crabapple is in full bloom, its creamy blossoms tinged with pink. My own apple tree has tiny buds that will soon burst open in a froth of pale pink flowers. My lilac bushes are leafing. The primroses are smiling at the sky, and my ranunculus are heavy with thickly layered dark pink petals.
At the bottom of the hill the salmonberry bushes boast delicate magenta flowers. Just beyond, there are fuzzy buds on the magnolias—more of which are beginning to open each day. The pear trees at the bend in the road are studded with starry white blossoms. Today as my daughter and I walked through the park, we saw the furled pink sheath of the first wood sorrel flower. And every once in a while as I walk through the neighborhood I catch a whiff of jasmine on the air.
Walks and grocery store runs excepted, we have withdrawn into our home to shelter in place, but the trees and shrubs and flowers have not. They were already in their place, they had no need to withdraw, and now they are bursting with new life, drawn from the soil in which they were rooted or sheltered all winter.
In a sense, none of this is new. Year after year, spring rolls around with its promise of new life, and I look around, nod my approval, and then get back to life as usual without paying all that much attention to the life that is springing up all around me. But this year, I am viscerally aware how frail a thing life-as-usual is. I think most of us are more deeply aware of our frailty, our mortality, our interconnectedness than we usually allow ourselves to be. This can be frightening, but if it makes us more keenly aware how desperately we need the promise inherent in all the new life that is rising in root and shoot and tree, and more keenly alive to that promise, it is also a gift.
As I look at the life unfolding and unfurling all around me, I cannot help but think of the coming of spring in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and the rising rumor whispered by every green leaf: “Aslan is on the move.” This is the promise spoken silently by each of my hundreds of daffodils, by my apricot tulips, by my neighbor’s crabapple and the magnolia down the hill. Aslan is on the move. The winter is over, spring is here, summer is coming.
Life is rising. Let us open our eyes, our ears, our hands, our hearts, and receive.
K.C. Ireton is the author of The Circle of Seasons: Meeting God in the Church Year and Cracking Up: A Postpartum Faith Crisis. An avid reader, she is especially fond of old books and home-schools her four children so that she can spend her days reading and learning all sorts of interesting things. K.C. is pleased as punch to be writing for The Cultivating Project!