March 11, 2011

Twenty Something / Christina Capecchi

Lord, help us spring ahead and leap again

Five inches of snow melted yesterday, and I could hear it dripping off the roof. It sounded like rain, and looked like hope.

We have been buried in five feet of snow over the course of this Minnesota winter, which isn’t over.

One December Saturday brought nearly two feet of snow, collapsing the roof of the Minnesota Vikings’ Metrodome and capsizing our weekend plans.

But today the sun is shining. A chickadee is singing. And the stems of my trimmed hydrangeas are popping out from the snow. It is a marvel to think that they have slept all winter, and eventually will sprout bright, fluffy bouquets.

I am reflecting on the symbols of spring in my life, the people and things that show me what it looks like to defeat winter.

There is the old oak in the backyard, spotted by moss and choked by a vine. Though it has lost limbs and endured woodpeckers, it stands firm, fanning its gnarled branches with a peacock’s pride.

Then there are the people, like the meteorologist, who produced today’s snow report. Weatherman Paul Douglas was laid off three years ago, but he hasn’t stopped tracking heat waves and cold fronts. He created a blog and Twitter account, and has 3,287 followers, which isn’t bad. “Entrepreneur and father of two amazing boys, making the transition from old [dying] media to new media,” his Twitter profile reads.

There is the mom in snowy Fargo, N.D., raising five kids and pinching pennies, who posted on her blog a Luci Shaw poem that begins “Blessed be God for thaw.”

There is the widow in Wisconsin, who bought a new memory-free house and a 105-pound Labradoodle named Gabe. They go on walks down to the lake, and she has begun taking him out at night to star gaze. Enveloped in the dark, she has focusing on the tiny, twinkling lights overhead.

My 80-year-old grandmother buried her husband, Jim, at age 44, with six children at her side, and stood beside a snow-covered gravesite this February, bidding farewell to her beloved companion, Dick. During the visitation, I watched her hug and comfort others, true to form. On such a sad day, there was my grandmother, so beautiful and vibrant.

She called the other day, and I saved her voicemail. “Just know that I’m getting along real well,” she said. “It’s just kind of one special blessing after another going on around me.”

That is the promise of spring, packed in each sunrise, in each day that we try to make a little better.

This month, we enter into Lent, the sober liturgical season that carries us into the ultimate springtime victory. We are prepared for the 40-day journey by a Sunday Gospel reminding us how to weather the winter.

Like the wise man that St. Matthew describes, we must heed God’s commandments and build our homes on firm foundations. “The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock” (Mt 7:25).

I am grateful for the people in my life who model resilience, who live with the faith that spring will always follow winter. They demonstrate the Latin meaning of the word—to be resilient, “to leap again.”

We 20-somethings may seem fearless, but we need to observe resilience in action—30- and 50- and 70-somethings diving into new careers and new relationships, new homes and new hobbies. They help us imagine our lives in unrestricted terms, to see that older can mean better. They teach us how to forgive ourselves and our loved ones, to find new strength and to leap again.

(Christina Capecchi is a freelance writer from Inver Grove Heights, Minn. She can be reached at

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