Spring tip-toed into my world while I was sleeping. Crocuses bloomed in my flower garden. There was no blaring trumpet to announce this glorious event, just a simple flower. After a cold dark winter, there is no sweeter sight than a delicate flower. Yet there is another sure sign of spring – mud. Now that the temperatures have mellowed and the frozen ground is soft, my children and grandchildren have tracked mud in the foyer, up the stairs, all over the car seats, across the tile and even clogged the sinks and smeared the counter tops.
There was a time I lamented March mud. There was a time when I was annoyed about anything that kept my life a constant challenge. I am not annoyed any more. For I have learned we can’t have spring without some mud. Flowers need earth, water and sunshine to grow. We can’t put earth and water together without making mud. In a similar way, all of us need trouble in order to mature.
This past weekend I flew to California to speak to a large gathering of women. On the airplane, I sat next to a beautiful young African woman from Kenya and Sudan. She was currently living in Utah. She told me about her childhood growing up in a country with constant violence and poverty, her years as a refugee and finally seeking asylum in the United States. She had learned to speak English and was now going to school to become a nurse hoping to be of service to those with various cultural and religious backgrounds. Her wisdom, desire to bring light and her hope in the future gave me the feeling I was in the presence of royalty. She had taken the mud she was given as a child and created a beautiful garden.
Once I arrived in California I was privileged to meet so many amazing women. As we honestly shared our challenges with each other, I felt a bond that will stay with me forever. Even if I never see these women again, I will always remember and love them.
On the flight home I thought about my daughter who had experienced a ruptured appendix on her wedding day. I thought about another daughter who daily faces the fragile medical condition of her little boy who was born without a brain and still another daughter dealing with the unexpected lay-off of her husband. They have all chosen to embrace their experiences and learn and grow from them.
We all have days, weeks, months or even years of rain. There are times when we all wonder about the mud we have to deal with. Eventually we discover challenges don’t go away; they simply become new ones. So we have a choice - we can wait for the storm to pass or we can learn to dance in the rain.
Each person has a heavy load to carry. When we show more kindness for each other’s struggles we will ultimately discover more courage for our own. Eventually winter fades away. Then the first crocus seems even more the miracle. Yet even in the midst of our personal winters there is purpose and meaning. Patience, wisdom and peace are coming. Like dormant bulbs in the cold earth our hearts are about to open because of our winter wait.