Yes, Spring is coming


On yesterday, February 2, the following headline appeared in the Washington Post:

“Groundhog Day 2017: Phil says ‘long winter,’ but he was wrong before he even woke up.”

Despite the fact that Punxsutawney Phil, the celebrated groundhog from Pennsylvania, saw his shadow, predicting another 6 weeks of winter weather, much of the country has already experience record-high temperatures in January. In many places spring flowers are already in bloom. A couple of days ago, I noticed three trees in full bloom with delicate pink blossoms, and I thought  it looks like it’s going to be an early spring this year.

In addition, on February 1, robins were sighted in nearby Angier, North Carolina, another sure sign that Spring is on the way.  Whenever I think of robins returning after their brief winter absence, I recall that I made my acting debut in the second grade when I played “Robin Redbreast.” With my red sweater and brown paper wings flapping vigorously, I ran across the stage proclaiming, “Spring is coming! . . . Spring is coming! . . . Spring is coming!”

A few years ago our daughter, Melissa, sent me a card with the “Easter Legend of the Robin” on the cover:

A little grey robin, as he was flying to the Holy Land, saw Christ hanging on the cross. His heart filled with sadness. He noticed the crown of thorns the soldiers placed on the crucified Savior. The small bird, forgetting his timidity, flew down to remove a thorn from the brow of Christ. As he did so, a drop of Christ’s blood stained the little bird’s breast. The robin, through his act of love, earned the red badge of courage.

From this time forth, all robins have had red breasts as reminder that one of them was kind to the Lord. Thus, the robin is truly the harbinger of spring. He welcomes Easter with his cheerful note of hope, reminding us that from death comes life.

In reflecting upon my acting debut, I composed a song that I sing when I see robins returning in winter:

Red Robin, Red Robin—Harbinger of Spring,

Rear back with your red breast

And sing, sing, sing.

Originally written in light of the Challenger Spacecraft disaster, the poem “Until Spring” was also written in anticipation of one of my favorite seasons:

Until Spring

So when this corruptible has put on incorruption,

and this mortal has put on immortality,

then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written,

“Death is swallowed up in victory.  O Death,

where is your sting?  O Hades, where is your victory?

I Corinthians 15:54-55

Whether on earth or shuttled in the sky,

Death snuffs out our candles in devious ways,

For we all must learn to number our days,

Although the soul still probes to fathom why.

The mind made numb with pain can only try

To make sense of the immense ache that stays.

The answer sounds since Adam but still dismays:

It is appointed unto man once to die.

Though grief surrounds us, comfort can be shown.

The sun melts frost with new life as surely

As blossoms will flourish from seeds once sown.

Until Spring, on tip-toe we yearn to see

The day when we shall know as we are known,

When death is swallowed up in victory.                     

To close our discussion is this magnificent song by Steven Curtis Chapman, who wrote the song following the death of his 5 year-old daughter in a tragic accident at the family’s home in 2008.  This exquisite musical composition offers a comforting reminder that, indeed, “Spring is coming.”

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