What is all this juice and all this joy?
A strain of earth’s sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden. – Have, get, before it cloy,
Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning…
~from Spring by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Recently, a rainstorm left behind not much destruction but rather a Winter’s last touch, as a slight chill wind, grey-cast skies and a general cold dullness move lingeringly over this St. Joseph’s feast day. But we are grateful for this ebb in what had felt an almost premature jaunt into the liveliness of Spring. Indeed, warmer temperatures and sunshine have been most welcome, but it feels a little like cheating; Lent is not yet over, and our souls benefit from the stretch of seasonal poverty and voluntary lack – prayer, penance, fasting, almsgiving – an overall sacrificial spirit that informs our days as we mortify our bodies and purify our wills, willingly so, in anticipation of the grace of life that comes in just a few weeks when we will celebrate Easter.
Still, natural life is bursting forth all around. Eastern redbud and pear tree blossoms, fig, apple, and dogwood leaf-buds, and henbit, clover, dandelion, bloodroot, wild pansies and daffodils splash with color the brown-and-grey-turning-to-green vista, wherever the eye roams. Birdsong fills the air from dawn to dusk, and we are reminded at once of the promise of verdant times ahead after the long winter, even as we remember, in bittersweet though hopeful resignation, that nothing gold can stay. Sapsuckers call out from the trunks of maples like tin whistles, fat robins share the yard and field with dark-eyed juncos, and sparrows, mockingbirds, eastern bluebirds, tits, and cardinals flit equally up and down and about, all superseded on high by the warbling martins, chirping God’s promise that we are infinitely more valued than those many beautiful little birds. Even the blackbirds’ caw and the rooster’s crow fit harmoniously in to the music that echoes, even if imperfectly, of Eden’s bounty and righteous order, and our spirits are lifted by the sound. The children delight in wild onions and old bones, the tracks of deer, crayfish, snakes, salamanders, and frogs in the water, and rabbits scampering through the underbrush. Reynard was spotted a couple of days ago down near the creek, trotting confidently southward, presumably to a hidden den – soon, we hope, to be found and routed definitely.
Danger always lurks; there will always be loss, but hope springs eternal! Let us ponder in humility, cherish in wonder, strive in perseverance and store up our treasure in Heaven while we treasure the glimpses of Heaven and little happinesses afforded here in this life. St. Patrick, hero in dark times, ora pro nobis! St. Joseph, wonder-worker, perfect husband, father, and inspiration, ora pro nobis!
On this little homestead our family aspires to work the land and hand on the Catholic Tradition, walking in wonder and learning to live by the fruits of our labor, in honor of Our Lady of Fatima, who guides us to Him.