Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Cusp Of Spring

     You’re the first, the one we’ve waited the whole winter to see: you, snowdrop; you, earliest crocus; you, winter aconite; you, pussy willow. Your blossoms are ther before the the first flower forms and the first leaf unfurls, they flower before nature can start to breathe. Love comes first. Everything else comes later: the eagerness of growth, the work of roots, the quiet and relentless struggle for life, but you, first flower, do not spring from anything but yourself. The raw earth is still closed, the roots cannot suckle at a ground yet sleeping, the plant brings out that first flower from its own essence. It doesn’t have anywhere to get anything from, so it offers up its own heart to the undertaking of spring.

     As far as it concerns us people, do not believe every rumor, O spring bud—it is not so bad. Even we would like to have paradise on earth and holy peace and resurrection and eternal spring and other things like that, but meanwhile we’re only arguing about how to arrange it and where to get it from and who is going to do what and so on. It seems that it just hasn’t worked yet, unless the very earth we live upon were to open up itself to (as the gardeners say) vegetate the garden of Eden. But if we pay close attention, we will find people here and there who put their whole hearts into these heavenly undertakings, and bring the means to make our world better out of themselves. Love comes first.


     But I witness that previously mentioned first snowdrop (it doesn’t have another given name and played its part anonymously for the honor and glory of its kind), and it was plucky to set itself to such spring business. It had to bore through the snow and ice, quite the little icebreaker; to plunge into spring full force, accepting the risk of night frosts and freezes. You don’t realize such a little flower experiences no idyll of sunny comfort—-it is a noble lot, all courage and adventure. The first herald standing before the lines and waving a white banner. Pioneer and conqueror. The first settler in an inhospitable country. The first white sail on the ocean.

     It is courage and it is a matter of course. That is a good thing.


     As far as the plants are concerned it has already begun: here is a stubby sprout, fat and closed-off, pokes through the earth, a leaflet extends over there that is so beautifully green that there had never been anything like it, but that’s not all. When you look at it closer you see that this tiny little life is coming out of last year’s mold and rot, that it is up to its neck in the communal grave of last season’s vegetation. Last year’s leaf is not interred until now; now, in this time of sprouting it returns to ash and dust. When we take a decent look at it, the spring earth is not bestrewn with flowers; it is strewn to a much larger extent with dead foliage and rot and decomposition of what was there last year. Only now is the previous year buried; only now does dead life return to the earth from which it arose. This is no resurrection of the dead; it is a resurrection among the dead.

     Listen, you fresh little leaf among the heaps of decomposition, this itself what I’m trying to show you: the eternal concurrence of life and death.



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