The weather in the Highlands has been glorious these last few days. Blessed with a few days off after Easter I was able to walk and enjoy the sudden arrival of Spring. Everywhere I looked there were signs of new life, crocuses and daffodils, birds nesting and trees budding into life and, best of all, the “new-green”, as I call it. That distinctive shade of green that tells you it is fresh and new, a green that can be seen even if there is a late frost or a cold wind. A green that shines in the sudden warmth of the sun and reflects under blue sky. A young green that is full of hope and promise.
In this world of Covid-19 in which we all find ourselves, we have had to face so much unexpected death and grief. Our hearts feel perhaps as though winter will never pass, that the season of mourning, sadness, and fear in which we find ourselves may linger forever. It can be hard to see the new life springing around us when loved ones are lost, when life as we know it has been halted, when fear is rife, and uncertainty clouds our future. Yet, even in the midst of death, God comes to bring us comfort and hope. To remind us that although we walk through dark valleys of death and fear now, He can and will bring us out to still waters and green pastures again.
Life will never be the same for any of us. For those who have lost loved one’s, life can never again be as it was. For those who have lost income, livelihood, independence, there is a different kind of grieving. For those who are serving on the front-line images and memories that will continue to linger and possibly haunt long after this is over. For those who are isolated and alone, those who are afraid…for none of us life can be the same again. But there can be a new season, a new greenness. The poet George Herbert puts this so beautifully in his poem “The Flower”. His shrivelled and grieving heart had given up hope. He had gone into the darkness underground and been lost to life and light. Yet, Christ his light comes and again he knows that new green of life springing up again in him.
How fresh, oh Lord, how sweet and clean
Are thy returns! even as the flowers in spring;
To which, besides their own demean,
The late-past frosts tributes of pleasure bring.
Grief melts away
Like snow in May,
As if there were no such cold thing.
Who would have thought my shriveled heart
Could have recovered greenness? It was gone
Quite underground; as flowers depart
To see their mother-root, when they have blown,
Where they together
All the hard weather,
Dead to the world, keep house unknown.
And now in age I bud again,
After so many deaths I live and write;
I once more smell the dew and rain,
And relish versing. Oh my only light……
That lovely Easter hymn “Love is Come again” reminds us that Christ rose from the dead and that out of death and darkness he can bring light and life and greenness to our hearts again.
“When our hearts are wintry, grieving or in pain
Thy touch can call us back to life again,
Field of our hearts, that dead and bare have been….
Love is come again,
Like wheat that springeth green”