Since I last wrote, March’s equinox has taken place, one of only two dates out of the year when the sun crosses the plane of the Earth’s equator and night and day are almost equal in duration all over the world.
On our half of the planet, it also marks the day when Winter tiredly passes his chilly baton into the eager hands of a frilly-frocked Spring, who swiftly gets to work.
It’s not like I don’t know Spring is coming, but the first feeling of her always surprises me. She seems to pounce all at once with a poof of pollen dust and the swirl of a southern breeze. Along with her come an orchestra of sounds, happy hues, and delicate perfumes that burst and sway at the twirling of her skirt.
Spring is like a sermon, a resonating reminder from God that He is indeed, “making all things new.” I need this reminder and the energy it produces in this sluggish mass that has become my winter body and the sometimes cold spaces that invade my soul (when I sit and wonder if I’ve forgotten how to pray).
I inwardly rejoice at the changing in the temperature, and at having a serendipitous moment of running across a quote from theologian Timothy Keller that says, “You should never go to God because He is useful. Go to God because He’s beautiful. And yet there is nothing more beautiful than finding God useful.”
Is there any better time to see how beautiful God is than during the spring, when the trees are spreading their fingers in gentle adoration, and the flowers are lifting their faces toward heaven in their very best Sunday clothes? Yet, there is nothing more useful than realizing their praise, and then praising along with them.
Not long ago my husband studied something called “grounding” or “earthing.” It is a simple activity where you get barefooted and go for a slow walk outside, the terrain doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you take off your shoes and let gravity hold on to you. You let go and relinquish yourself to that which is larger. You allow yourself to become abandoned to trust, just like you did as a child before you had to have everything figured out.
The act is supposed to relieve stress, calm tension, relax muscles, and reduce depression. All good stuff. God stuff, beautiful and useful.
I find it works, especially this time of the year. The grass is toasty warm in the sun, and refrigerator cool in the shade, and it soaks up the soles of my feet. Day lilies and irises square their shoulders, and fluffy patches of clover make bees sing a tune that’s secretive and wonderful.
I feel for a while fulfilled, as if each step is an active prayer. Although I’m not asking God for anything, He allows me to enjoy His presence, which I suppose is everything.
I bask in the awe of His designs, all of them new, yet very, very ancient. Even me. Because of Him and His Love the dirt beneath me becomes Holy Ground. Through this same Love, my soul becomes like a burning bush consumed but not destroyed. I think of the words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “Earth’s crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God, but only he who seeks takes off his shoes; the rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.”
I don’t want to be blind to the “beautiful” by looking only for the “useful,” even after I put my shoes back on. I want Spring to mean more than that. I want life to mean more than that.
I want to be grounded, no matter what the season, yet be a part of the gentle gusts that feel a lot like the breath of our Creator. He is my sunshine, my water, and my soil. In Him, I feel like a wildflower of eccentric color. I allow myself to revel in this as I dig my toes deeper into the earth and then lighten their hold. I bow my head a tiny bit, and whisper into the wind “Amen.”
“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”