Spring and fall have been my favorite seasons for most of my life, yet I am seeing spring emerge with fresh eyes this year. As many of us have slowed our pace, verdant spring races ahead. I find myself acutely aware of its brisk transitions, and am comforted by its vitality, especially in this pandemic year when so much of my own activity is curtailed.
Tiny puffs of green magically appear on bare branches and transform almost immediately into luscious green leaves. Bright yellows, reds, oranges, and purples dot the landscape as daffodils and tulips explode with color. With their sturdy stems and geometrically arranged petals, even the oft maligned dandelions embellish monochromatic lawns with dollops of sunshine. The fragrances of honeysuckle and wisteria linger in the air. I watched two juvenile squirrels chase each other around a tree trunk one morning and laughed out loud. Several whizzing miniature jewels have already appeared for hovering sips at the newly-filled hummingbird feeders.
I know these changes occur every year, but I am acutely aware of them as I shelter—as I spend more time in solitude and in silence. What a joy it is to witness this spectacle of regrowth and rebirth, just by looking out the window or stepping out into the world under the never-ending sky. Especially this spring, my relationship with the natural world is influencing my way of being every moment, and I am grateful. In a chapter titled, “On Confinement,” the School of Life’s Book of Life captures my sentiments well. “Silence gives us an opportunity to appreciate a great deal of what we generally see without ever properly noticing; and to understand what we have felt but not yet adequately processed. “ (https://www.theschooloflife.com/thebookoflife/on-confinement/)
While so much of the world feels shut down or at least on hold, spring is marching forward at its characteristic pace. In addition to the visual treats, nature has beneficial calming effects—on anxious minds and on adrenalin-charged bodies. The natural world can even have a steadying effect on the immune system, an aspect of human physiology understandably receiving a great deal of attention these days. (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150916162120.htm)
The exuberance of spring awakenings happens with or without my witness, but, AHHH, what a glorious privilege I have to view this visually-stunning spectacle so intimately this year! It’s like having a ringside seat to the divine.
In these days of solitude and slow time, the stunning beauty and calming power of nature are both healing tonics for my inertia. When I breathe the fresh air of morning or study a cloud-dappled sky, I am mindful of the miracles of spring that enliven and renew me every single day. Sometimes, being a captive audience is a blessing.
Stephen L. Hines, MD
May 3, 2020