And all forlorn

We had an absolutely blighting frost this weekend, and much of the tender new growth that was last week so fair and fresh has blackened hopelessly or hangs limp upon shivering boughs. Where has our lovely spring gone? On Easter Sunday I wore a wool suit and fur in place of the white English net tea gown I originally had in mind!

As I wandered about the yard yesterday morning surveying the damage, I couldn’t help but ask the Lord why He had allowed it. After He had taken such pains to make everything so beautiful, why send such bitter weather to destroy it? I mean, I’m enough of a Southern girl to have a healthy respect for our notorious bursts of ‘blackberry winter’—I’d never consider setting out anything remotely tender before Tax Day. (As it is, I’ve been hustling seed flats and small potted foxgloves in and out of the basement for nearly a week now as our nighttime temperatures would kill them rather than ‘harden them off’.) But it broke my heart to see the curled leaves on my hydrangeas, the dejected and lifeless buds on the Confederate jasmine, the withered remains of the bright new growth that had once clothed the majestic old crepe myrtle that nearly fills our side yard.

There was such a depressing sobriety to the scene, a strange and brooding sense of things beyond my control. Philip and I had covered up everything we could, racing about in the windy dark, throwing every spare sheet I owned over gardenias and roses all in bud and tender summer forget-me-nots that our late warm weather had charmed into believing it was May…

But there was nothing I could do besides—except hope and pray, which I did with a right good will! And, after everything, be grateful for all that was spared: the slender fingers of green on our beloved willow tree out front, my stout-hearted little sweet peas, the raspberries that were just leafing out, the irises with their swollen purple buds. The summer phlox—queen of my garden—the poppies and cranesbill and hollyhocks. I felt I loved them more than ever in that still grey morning.

He hath made everything beautiful in its time. I felt the truth of those words, the consciousness of God’s sovereignty, rising in my heart as surely as the sap was rising in the growing things all around me—green and otherwise. He had done it before and He would do it again. All manner of things would be well. I thought, whimsically, that I knew what those frost-burned creatures would say, had they power of speech—or, rather, what they were saying, perhaps, could I but hear their language:

Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him…

For it’s still spring. The quickening life is yet abroad and new growth will replace that which has been allowed to die. The same God that restores a life blighted with disappointed hopes, that heals a broken heart, that binds the wounds and dries the tears of His beloved people, will send His rains and His sunshine once more upon the earth. And this spring, the only spring we have in our possession, will be beautiful in its time.

Christina Rossetti’s Another Spring has always held a solemn charge for me to live in the present and cherish the joys of today. Perhaps this spring it is most applicable of all…

 

If I might see another Spring

I’d not plant summer flowers and wait:

I’d have my crocuses at once,

My leafless pink mezereons,

My chill-veined snowdrops, choicer yet

My white or azure violet,

Leaf-nested primrose; anything

To blow at once, not late.

 

If I might see another Spring

I’d listen to the daylight birds

That build their nests and pair and sing,

Nor wait for mateless nightingale;

I’d listen to the lusty herds,

The ewes with lambs as white as snow,

I’d find out music in the hail

And all the winds that blow.

 

If I might see another Spring—

Oh stinging comment on my past

That all my past results in ‘if’—

If I might see another Spring

I’d laugh to-day, to-day is brief;

I would not wait for anything:

I’d use to-day that cannot last,

Be glad to-day and sing.

 

5 Responses to “And all forlorn”

  1. Wendy says:

    This post is so lovely it made me want to cry. I felt the same way as I
    surveyed my limp and blackened hydrangea leaves..but you are so right.
    We must look for His hand in everything, knowing His plans and purposes
    for us are for good… Thank you for this beautiful post.

  2. Emily says:

    Lanier,
    I recently discovered your site through the YLCF. I’ve enjoyed reading through your older posts (in the process finding enough recommended books to fill several pages of a notebook…I don’t know if I’ll ever get the chance to read half of them!) and hope to hear more from you soon. This site has truly been a blessing to me. Thank you!
    ~Emily~

  3. Julie says:

    Dear Lanier,

    I just want to thank you so much for your website. I have enjoyed your writing and you are so enthusiastic about the books and music that you love, that I have to admit, a little of that enthusiasm has rubbed off on me. I have read The Harvester (oh, would that all men be like the Harvester!), I’m currently ready St. Elmo and I’ve just gotten a subscription to Inkblots. I’d tell you about the music, but I fear you’ll think me a stalker!
    I live in Maine and I loved reading your journal entry about your trip here – even if you did poke fun at our accents – 🙂
    Thank you Lanier – and I look forward to your next post.

    Julie

  4. Abby Maddox says:

    I know that you are frollicking through the English countryside, but I am ready for you to come home and tell us about it! I called Lauren last week just to ask her when you were supposed to be home. Just wanted to tell you that you’re missed. 🙂

  5. Joanna says:

    Where are you????