ISSUES OF FAITH: The surprise of spring

THOUGH I GREW up in Northwest Washington — Lynden — I spent most of my life in Michigan.

There, the cold of winter quickly gives way to the heat of summer, with springtime some years almost bypassed.

Having returned to the Pacific Northwest 14 years ago, I continue to take particular pleasure in the long, leisurely springs typical of this area.

But even though our springs are relatively leisurely — in four days on March 20 spring will be officially recognized — the actuality of spring still takes me by surprise.

How does it happen?

How does it happen?!

This living green and gold out of the seemingly dead brown and gray?

Poet Archibald MacLeish also felt this and found a way to express it — this experience of being overtaken by the fact of new life bursting from old life and the suddenness with which it happens.

The poem is titled, “Miracle.”

Why, it was wonderful! Why, all at once there were leaves,

Leaves at the end of a dry stick, small, alive

Leaves out of wood. It was wonderful,

You can’t imagine. They came by the wood path

And the earth loosened, the earth relaxed, there were flowers

Out of the earth! Think of it! And oak trees

Oozing new green at the tips of them and flowers

Squeezed out of clay, soft flowers, limp

Stalks flowering. Well, it was like a dream,

It happened so quickly, all of a sudden it happened

I don’t have much to say about this poem except that it exquisitely captures my own experience of spring — the wonder of spring — the surprise of spring.

It’s as if I have turned away for an instant and, when I turn back, this miracle has happened.

I am never quite prepared for it — thankfully so.

Perhaps, in connection to this poem, I could also raise a question about spring as it relates to our interior being.

Is there any new birth in the life of your spirit to match this rebirth in nature, any dry twig or branch within you, seemingly without life that might have suddenly burst into blossom?

Maybe there is, but maybe you haven’t taken the time to notice.

Spring calls to us, but spring is also in us.

That, too, is something of a dream.


Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. The Rev. Bruce Bode is minister of the Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Port Townsend. His email is

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