Everyone’s up already, on this oddly warm February day. I take my morning coffee to the front porch rockers – dust off a few winter months of disuse – gather a wool blanket around my legs and breathe deep the damp, fresh air. The moment I sat, still, I sensed the morning rush, thick like humidity. It’s a work day, a Tuesday, and I can hear the distant hum of the highway, cars speeding along to work, to home, to wherever. Though the sun is not yet finished rising – warm watercolors still splashing their contribution across the sky – this new warm air already carries promise, change, hope, and yes – hustle. I can tell today will be lovely – a supposed high of 77 degrees – by the warm breeze that is just strong enough to notice, but not enough to send my journal pages ruffling or push me back indoors. Above the constant drone of wind-stirred branches, traffic, and a distant siren, the birds squawk and chirp, loudly and awkwardly, tuning up their springtime songs. They seem in a hurry too, barely pausing on a branch here or there, rather rushing about theatrically, as if their to-do list today allows for no porch sitting, no coffees cradled with warm blankets. Even the clouds are hurrying, streaking the sky with a quick hello, then on to better things.
As I sit, pencil in hand, coffee now gone, and watch this morning’s painting change stroke by lively stroke, I wonder about the upcoming spring. Why do these early, warm days not only put a spring in my step, but also a slight pressure on my heart, a melancholy weight on my shoulders? Though our front yard bunny is nowhere to be seen this morning, I can’t help but picture Alice’s White Rabbit nervously scurrying into the scene panting, “I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date! No time to say hello. Goodbye! I’m late, I’m late, I’m late!”
If winter is, for many, a season of rest, growth, and renewal, it can feel like the arrival of spring brings with it a pressure to prove you’ve grown, changed, improved. Spring’s here! Heck, it’s nearly summer! What have you to show for it?! The days are longer, the sunshine warmer, how are you taking advantage of that? And while we’re at it… how are those New Year’s Resolutions treatin ya?
Living in Ohio, where the weather changes more than my toddler’s appetite, I know I feel an odd pressure to seize the day when I wake up in February to 77 degrees and sunshine. It can be wonderful, motivating, intoxicating, and also oddly anxiety inducing. Better make it count!
Lately, a verse has really stuck with me. I’m not one who reads the Bible and automatically remembers the words I’ve absorbed. Typically, I have to really work to memorize scripture, to get the words to stick with me throughout the day. However, last week I read Isaiah 30:15, and the words have bounced around in my brain ever since. I feel as if they were a gentle reminder, from my Creator to me, to not push ahead and force things that aren’t ready.
“You will be delivered by returning and resting; Your strength will lie in quiet confidence.”
While there is a beautiful, graceful momentum to the birds flitting between trees, and clouds shifting across the sky, I believe that’s different from the odd pressure we often put on ourselves to change, do, perform, and push forward just for the sake of it. Just so we don’t appear stagnant. Those birds dashing past? That stratus streak above? They are living out exactly what they were made for in this moment, what God charged them to do today. Let us live with the same assurance and sense of purpose and guidance. May we pray for discernment and wisdom, to know when to move, fly, hustle, and – maybe most importantly – when to be still. May we not feel pressured by others’ momentum, intimidated by their hustle, their purpose, their callings, but instead seek to know ours better, and hear the voice of the One who calls and directs us. May we know when to be the robin, awake early, singing and sprinting from tree to tree, and when to be the rabbit, still curled up cozy in its den, resting, waiting, preparing in quiet confidence for the right hour to stretch its legs, greet the day, and get to work.