I step outside after dinner to take my little dog to the bathroom, and the sky is streaked with pink – the remnants of daylight sinking away into evening.
When I leave for work in the morning, it’s no longer dark, and the sunrise is melting away the chill with its warmth of promise.
The sun is tilting to a new position in the sky, reminding us of the season that we’re about to step into – the season of spring.
The season that usually fills me with such renewed hope and energy after such long, dark winters.
And while there is some sense of that feeling this year, it comes tinged with anxiety and grief, as is so common when you come to the first-year anniversary of a tragedy.
Slipping into spring this year only reminds me in clear-cut colors of the world shutting down last March due to COVID. And how I then tried to spend the spring embracing the sunshine while feeling trapped in so much darkness at the same time.
Not to mention we found out that school was shutting down on March 13th – which was my dad’s birthday – which we’ll also be commemorating this year for the first time with him gone.
So you can imagine how the slow warming of March into spring also brings dozens of memories I wish I could just forget.
At the same time, though, I can’t escape the tangible reminders of God’s love through this light returning. The physical light and warmth that comes with this time of year are very real glimpses into the light and warmth of God’s presence – and that He is always stronger and bigger than the darkness.
And no matter what happened last spring – no matter the lost days I didn’t get to share with my students – no matter the ache I felt at being separated from them – no matter the long days stuck inside – I have been given a new gift this spring.
Today, I got to sit outside on the playground while my seventh-graders were scattered about in small groups filming documentaries for History class, and it was a moment of profound gratitude at getting to be there. At getting to be on such a beautiful campus, at getting to be with such energetic and creative kids – at getting to be teaching and learning with them in person where we belong.
This is what the light is coming back to reveal. It’s not coming back to reveal only the sad memories of yesterday. It’s coming back to reveal that out of the darkness we will emerge into new promises of today.
I know I have a tendency to remember anniversaries of events in too clear of detail. I’ll see the date on the calendar and think, “Last year at this time, I was …” Or, “This is always the time when we …” I know I’ll do that this spring without conscious effort because last spring was so vividly different than anything we’d ever known.
But I hope that I will also remember, “God was always and will always be faithful.” I hope I’ll remember, “Never take the gifts of the present for granted.” I hope I’ll remember, “He sustained you then, and He’ll sustain you now.” I hope I’ll remember, “Nothing tragic lasts forever.”
The light may be returning to open some sad memories in my life and possibly your life as well. But I pray that the light will also return to reveal hope and possibility for a new future. Yesterday can’t define us. Only the promise of God’s grace and His future home can do that.
And as the light rises each new day, I’m beginning to see both of those things in ever clearer detail.
So grateful for this gift.