“I know why spring is called spring,” my first-grader announced importantly as he climbed up into bed. “It’s because when the snow melts, everything springs up, out of the ground.” He bounced up vigorously, his arms above his head, to demonstrate.
“It’s a little different here in the desert,” I replied, tucking him back down under the covers. I shook my head, thinking about how the seasons are stubbornly taught according to a northern calendar, even here in the sunny desert. In January the kids make snowflakes and color pictures of snowmen in school, then go outside to play in their short sleeves. I often say that I miss the changes in season from back home. I miss the visual cues that change is coming, I miss the rhythms of nature that help me find my place in time.
A couple of days ago I was behind two British ladies in line at the store. They were reminiscing about spring in the UK and how much they missed the spring flowers, the crocuses and the snowdrops intrepidly pushing up out of the snow. But we all agreed that we don’t miss the snow.
Spring does come to the desert – the transformation is just a little more subtle here. As I write, I am sitting out in my backyard. The air has a little chill to it but the rays of the sun are warming. From where I sit I can lean a little to the right, and looking over and around my neighbors’ rooftops, I catch a peek of South Mountain. There is a greenish cast to the hills, holding the promise of beautiful wildflowers following the generous winter rains we have enjoyed. Spring is springing in the desert.
I recently read this verse from the book of Isaiah: “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:19). Spring is about new things, newness, new growth, new beginnings springing up.
Over in the corner of my garden, to my right, stands my sorry little navel orange tree. It has always been a little bit crooked and never gives us much fruit. Last year it really suffered during a landscape renovation when it did not get enough water. Many of the branches died and I was forced to prune it quite severely. It looked even sorrier and I was not sure it was going to make it.
But as I look across the garden now, I can see tiny little sprigs of new growth, pushing out all over its branches and it has more buds than ever before. I almost missed it.
“I’m doing a new thing – do you not perceive it?” It occurs to me, that very often I do not perceive it. That I easily miss the new thing, while rushing around busy with the old things.
Just like I am surprised by the abundant new growth on my little tree and the green carpet of wildflowers on the hills, I can be a little late in noticing the ways God is working new things everyday, in me, in my family, in the world around me. When I am late in noticing a new beginning, I am late in stepping into it, late in saying yes, late in appreciating what God is doing. And I may even miss the chance altogether.
As I sit I’m wondering where there might be new beginnings springing up in my life. I’m thinking of my kids, my marriage, my activities, my vocation. My roles as mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, writer – all of these change with time. What’s new on my horizon? How easily might I rush on past tiny sprigs of new opportunities to work, to serve, to love better?
The breeze is picking up now. I breathe deeply, catching the scent of new flowers. Everything smells green instead of dusty. Spring in the desert. I don’t want to miss it.
Jennifer Zach lives in Ahwatukee Foothills with her husband and three children. They are members of Bridgeway Community Church. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.