doesn’t take much
there is one skinny window in my kitchen that i look out a lot. it’s near the coffee gurgler, for starters. and i never start without coffee. not sure i could start without coffee. pretty much the gas to my lawn mower. oh, wait, i don’t have one of those; i have one of those old-fashioned pushing kinds, with the blades that whirl in sharp circles, and spit out the grass from the sides. makes me think of a shortstop with a mouth full of chew.
hmm, but that wasn’t my point in the first place.
so, back to the point.
all right, then.
back to the window.
just outside that ol’ window is my flowerbox, one of the ones i forget to water in summer, and spend the rest of the year–thanks to the disheveled row of dehydrated stubs–being reminded just how guilty i am.
beyond that, though, is a tangle of bushes that i pretend is the woods. oh, sure, if you look up and not down, you can see the brick of the big house next door. you might see the gutters as well. and that might signal your brain, something like this, “psst, this is not the woods. this is suburbia. and you are no more than the length of a stretched-out tall someone away from the people next door.”
but i make sure i look down. i don’t like the noise in my head that tries to shake loose all my cobwebs and gauzy-edged dreams.
far as i care, i am in the woods. and the tall skinny window is that of my fairy-tale cottage, and there in my woods, the seasons and birds muck around in that bramble, close enough that i can keep watch.
so it was, that the difference between monday and tuesday was rather quite something. on monday, i swear, i had nothing but sticks out the window, but tuesday, oh my.
as you can see up above, in that little picture i took just so you could see too, i had the stirrings of life.
now, i admit, it’s not much. and it’s hardly dramatic. why, you could be barreling by and not even notice. not unless that proud little branch with the nubs on the end, and the first sprouts of leaves, reached out and poked you in the eye. said something like, “hey, look, i’m not just a stick anymore.” then, as you cussed and patted your teary old eye, you might notice.
but i–maybe like you–have been on the prowl. i have been combing the earth, hiking the woods. i’ve been down on my knees, practically begging, dear mama earth, please please fork it up. puh-leez give us some sign that all is not lost, and we are not stuck in perpetual whatever this is. not quite winter. sure not spring. a cold mucky preamble that might never get to the story.
so there it was, maybe. the answer to at least one of my prayers. nothing big. just a little green. a little more nub than the day just before.
it was enough, though, for me to stop and to let down my jaw.
and that’s when i made the connection. life is like that, 99 days out of 100. the growth that we’re looking for isn’t dramatic. won’t bang us over the head with its sparkle and fizz. might even be drab, not fuchsia and cobalt and knock-you-down yellow.
sometimes, it’s just a few sweet leaves on the end of a twig on a very old bush. they unfurl. they inhale the light and the sweet notes of warmth that blow every once in a while.
they put forth.
all over again, a life force is tapped. the cycle of birth, of bloom, and of fade, is set back in motion.
we are, all of us, a part of that flow. we grow in barely perceptible bits. we are not like our children, those swift sprouting beings whose legs, i swear, grow in inches, from the time we tuck them in bed till they rise the next morning.
and sometimes it doesn’t take much, just the barest small measure of growing, of quarter-inching toward life, to make all the difference in the whole world.
sometimes the chasm between hope and hopelessness is barely as wide as the breadth of a new blade of grass.
sometimes it comes in measures you might overlook: the deepening red of the cardinal; the early brown push-ups of sprouts through the crust of the earth, the flitting of sparrows with string and fuzz in their beaks, a nest in the making.
sometimes, we, too, start to unfold. forgiveness seeps in where heartache once held its tight grip. the ache in our heart lightens. the words we were groping for, the ones we needed to whisper, out loud, they come to us, at long last.
sometimes, it doesn’t take much.
but there it is, the barely perceptible sign that the thing that we prayed for, the thing that we needed, is coming to life.
now, we keep watch and we wait. and we try to believe. what is good, what is right, what is life, will return.
doesn’t take much.
are you like me drumming your fingers, counting the hours for the full chorus of spring, and all that it stands for? it is indeed the season of hope. and after this here winter, these days of endless gray and chill and forecasts for snow, it comes achingly slow. but while the spring always comes, so too it reminds that all we await, might come as well. what do you yearn for this day? and are there signs out your window of hope?