Looking out my window the other day, I could see that most of the snow had finally melted. The yard looked brown and a bit tattered. An old blue knit cap, some buttons and other remnants of my snowmen lay scattered on the wet grass. The trees where the deer had come to munch all winter were barren twigs. Late winter…almost spring. Everything seemed all shades of brown and gray. Friends had mentioned that their daffodils, snow drops and crocus were already popping their green leaves out of the ground. I had no such signs in my yard. Where was my green? That was the sign I was looking for. My bulbs were resting comfortably underground beneath a blanket of snow until just a few days ago. Green…. I just wanted to see some green to confirm that spring was coming.
Dear God, “Please give me a sign”. That was my prayer. But, what I was really asking was, “God, please give me the exact sign that I’m looking for… the sign I think I need.
And yet, as I thought about it, and contemplated Lent and Easter with its message of rebirth and the correlation of spring and the earth’s rebirth, I realized that I had overlooked many signs.
Hadn’t I heard the beautiful sound of geese calling and encouraging one another as they flew north recently? Had I not seen a small flock of robins arrive amid the snow at my work last week? Wasn’t it staying lighter, longer, each day? Weren’t all my spring gardening catalogues covered with pictures of plump tomatoes and brightly colored nasturtiums? Didn’t I remark to someone just yesterday that the buds on the magnolia trees were already getting fatter in preparation of their blooming…their birth? Had I not smelled the sweet vapor of my neighbor’s outdoor syrup pot as he boiled sap, which began flowing in his maple trees with the first warm days that broke the winter freeze? And after hours of boiling, could anything be more representative of spring than the sweet taste of warm, fresh maple syrup?
Even with howling winds and temperatures well below freezing, I realized that I was surrounded with signs and wonders…. Miracles really.
The Bible often uses the words signs and wonders in place of the word miracle. And not all miracles are as dramatic as water turned into wine or burning bushes left undamaged.
God offers us signs and wonders….miracles, all the time. We sometimes fail to recognize them because they come disguised as ordinary, perhaps even odd moments that we shrug off or neglect to notice all together: the book that falls off the shelf at our feet; a friend or note that arrives with a thought or prayer that particularly speaks to where we are emotionally at that time; we randomly open a Bible to a passage that provides an answer to a question or situation tugging at the heart; we find a leaf or feather where we did not expect it or a coin under the sofa cushion where we vacuumed only yesterday; an absolutely perfect snowflake lands on our mitten and doesn’t melt right away as expected letting us examine its unique beauty. The number of signs is as vast as God’s creation.
But because my expectation and focus were on that one particular sign, I almost overlooked the many miracles that all my other senses had revealed. I almost missed all the other signs that already affirmed God’s promise of rebirth…. for the earth, for each of us. And in my heart, I have the promise that the greening of spring will come…in God’s time.
God had once again gently reminded me that I cannot let my own limited view narrow my expectations. God is larger than our imagination. Doesn’t that fact just make you smile? If we only look for what we want to see, or expect to see, we can easily miss what the Universe might be sharing.
I believe the message is to be open then to everything around you. Be present to each moment. Living in the present is especially challenging, but especially rewarding because it helps us to be physically, emotionally, and spiritually available to recognize, receive and respond to God’s signs and wonders….God’s miracles.