In late February, I took a walk in the wooded area behind our home. I went to check on the daffodils whose buds started peeking out due to the unseasonably warm winter. I’m not really sure why I checked on them, as there was little help I could provide them against the impending cold. While on my walk, I noticed that my Lenten Rose bush was in full bloom. My eyes welled with tears.
The Lenten Rose is this small bush that can’t really figure out it’s place in the rhythm of things. I relate to it. It almost dies back in the winter, but not fully. While its green leaves are muted, they never quite submit to brown. It’s not particularly flashy and isn’t chosen often for yards and landscapes. If plants could tease one another, I think it would be the butt of the plant jokesters. While it’s often seen as nothing special, every year it stirs deep emotion in me. I have two of them in my yard.
In late winter/early spring, long before the daffodils and crocuses peek from the ground, blooms quietly emerge from this little plant. While other plants show off their blossoms, the Lenten Rose is demure about it. Bowing its head, the blooms gently fold themselves against the leafy foliage. Sometimes one has to look for it, as it tries to conceal its several shades of purple and pink against a white background.
Truth be told, the winter is always hard for me. I don’t do well with the sun going down early, dark cloudy days, and the lack of green. It’s also the season of my darkest hours in years past, and the reminder of it all sometimes settles in like a heavy fog. As the winter progresses, something in me always needs a sign, begs for a sign, of hope.
And so that morning, this dear little shrub greeted me, full of blossoms, showing up several weeks earlier than usual. It declared, “Spring will come. That which has descended to the earth will emerge again. Winter will not win.” And within a month or so, the Lenten Rose will be proved right.
I think that’s why Easter is my favorite day of the year. The signs of hope are proved to be true! Lent will be over, the stone will be rolled away, and as Wendell Berry says, I can “practice resurrection.”
March 28, 2013