One more time: Spring is coming

 

This year February 2, Groundhog Day, slipped past without much recognition of the famous day that offers a prediction of the coming spring. According to tradition, if the furry critter sees his shadow and emerges from his burrow, we are in store for six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t and retreats into his dwelling, the weather forecast is for milder weather in the interim. Since 1886 the celebration of Groundhog Day on a grand scale has been associated with western Pennsylvania, home of the legendary Punxsutawney Phil, the famed rodent. As it turned out, Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow this year, indicating a forecast of six more weeks of cold weather although other groundhogs around the world provided opposing predictions of a long winter. Whether our furry friend sees his shadow or not, we are assured that after winter still comes the spring. Indeed, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?

Another traditional sign of the coming of spring is the sighting of robins on the Northern landscape. On January 31, 2019, I noted a gathering four robins on my way to work. This welcome committee provided a sure sign that spring is on the way. When I see robins returning after a brief absence, I recall that I made my acting debut in the second or third grade when I played “Robin Redbreast,” with my red sweater and brown paper wings that I flapped vigorously as I ran across the stage proclaiming, “Spring is coming! . . . Spring is coming! . . . Spring is coming!”

Robins are generally thought to be a sign that “Spring is coming!”

A few years ago my 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 a 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 new song that I sing when I see a robin returning in winter:

Red Robin, Red Robin—Harbinger of spring,
Rear back with your red breast
And sing, sing, sing.

Here is a poem originally written in light of the Challenger Spacecraft disaster expresses 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 each man must learn to number his 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 I yearn to see
The day when I shall know as I am known,
When death is swallowed up in victory.

Despite predictions for more harsh winter weather or when we are blessed with unseasonably mild temperatures, we remember the words of Robin Redbreast, and enjoy this magnificent rendering of Steven Curtis Chapman’s excellent musical composition, a reminder that, indeed, “Spring is coming!”

 

 

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