For a long time, I didn’t like spring that much. It was the season of rains and mud and pollen and allergies. But that was before the winter of ice storms and fast heavy snows and canceled flights and power outages and a tree limb falling through the windshield of my parked car and my father’s lung cancer diagnosis.
I had never been so happy to see spring.
Every daffodil shoot, every grape hyacinth, every sprout of leaves on a tree branch, the return of my patio chives, even the greening of moss and grass and baby weeds in the sidewalk cracks—it all made me happy. Take that, Winter! A runny nose is a small price to pay for such insistent, abundant, perennial proof that apparent death yields to life, again and again.
So that may partly explain why Spring is my favorite section of Christie Purifoy’s book, Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons. But it’s something else too. It contains a dramatic climax. Now, this is a story I knew from Christie before the book ever came out. And reading along, I knew what was coming. But the strangest thing happened—I was caught up in the hoping and doubting. Those neighbors: Will they come? Will they? And I wept with relief and surprise and gladness when—
Well, listen. This week, instead of reading a chapter to us, Christie reads various sections about her wild and crazy idea to invite hundreds of neighbors she’s never met to an Easter egg hunt. Playing time is 9:24.
The cusp of spring is full of illusions. The cold weather is over! We can put away the heavy coats and boots and gloves and start planning and planting a garden! Then a freak snow comes. Or we count the many steps between our imagined beds of abundant vegetables and the reality of that brown untilled dirt presided over by a smelly mound of compost. Of course, spring is both: daffodils and allergies, mud and seedlings, pollen and birdsong.
This is not my first spring, and here is something I know: the day when daffodils emerge is not the day for hope. The day when seedlings show the bright green of new life is not the day for faith. That day came and went. Hope is for the dark days. The days when all you can see is mud and mess, like so many forgotten toys strewn across the backyard. Those are the days when miracles begin. — Christie Purifoy, “A Growing Hunger”
1. “Whether or not we fast,” she writes, “all of us are hungry. … We hunger for food and drink. … We also hunger for touch and love and happiness. We hunger for purpose and meaning and beauty. Our hunger is new every day” (pp. 113-114).
- How does spring magnify or uncover your hungers?
- What have you done, will you do, to feed them?
- What have you done, will you do, to notice and feed others’ hungers?
2. After dropping off more than a hundred invitations to neighbors she hasn’t met, Christie writes, “It is only an Easter egg hunt, but it is also the cliff edge between winter and spring. The fault line between death and life. It is the line between loneliness, which is easy, and friendships, which will be hard work. I am realizing how frequently we are invited to dive into the unknown. To make a flying leap toward light and life and love. How frightening it always is. And how necessary” (p. 120).
- Do you agree that loneliness is easy?
- What frightening flying leaps are you contemplating, or making, or have made?
- How did they turn out?
- Is there something about spring that makes it easier, or more urgent?
- Dive in anywhere here. I’m especially interested in thoughts about the work of friendship.
3. There is much in the spring chapters about making a home on this earth we all live on, this bit of dirt where Christie and her family have settled. It’s a season of coming outside and shaking hands with the soil. For people of faith, the unseen eternal world can seem more real than this one. But we live here, now, among so many things that have been called good. (Like homegrown Brandywine tomatoes (p. 156): “When I first tasted one a few years ago, it was like remembering the flavor of something I’d never tasted before. This, I realized, was what I had meant all along whenever I said the word tomato.”)
- What are the joys and tensions in making a home here on earth, and tending the bit of earth where you live?
- What song do you hear in spring? What song are you singing?
As always, discuss whatever you want to. Find your own way into these pages. Thanks for the richness you bring to this community garden of conversation.
Thank you for reading along with us (and for bearing with us when some events behind the scenes necessitated pushing the PAUSE button for a while). Next week, we’ll wrap up with Summer, pp. 161-202. Previous posts in this series: