“April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.” ‘The Waste Land’, T.S. Eliot
The apple tree in our backyard remains dormant, and no buds swell. Grass, appearing and starting to green this week after months of winter covering, has resettled under new fallen snow this first morning of spring. A gentle snow fell with a higher sun backlighting a gray sky different from a winter sky, not the windblown dark storms of January. A pair of small woodpeckers came back to our suet log in the Rose of Sharon north of the kitchen sink window. We put out seed again for the chickadees, two mourning doves, red winged blackbirds and other over wintering birds that frequent the cedars and sugar maple. The swings out in back, re-hung on a warm day last week, are white coated and still. Spring snow portends of our mortality.
“Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” John 12:24
While running Saturday errands, at one of our stops, a thirty something woman approached us with two children, one in a front baby carrier and an obviously blind nine year old girl, Adrianne. Her Mom was petitioning with a colorful paper decorated can to help defray expenses while the family recovered from the loss of her husband’s employment. They had moved from Vermont for cancer treatment for Adrianne last summer. The radiation for her brain tumor arrested the growth of the tumor, but damaged Adrianne’s optic nerve. The father had taken the other four children to the nearby Dunkin Donuts to warm up. The family was surviving with the support of the local St. Lucy’s Parish pastor, Father John O’Brien, and the generosity of a local motel, which was putting them up with a deep discount during the winter off season. They are on a list and hope to have a local rental apartment soon.
Rita spoke to her, helped a little, and we drove to the next stop on the Saturday list. First feeling overwhelmed with this family’s loss, we discussed it in the car and went back. I spoke to her some more; she was remarkably cheerful and friendly given her plight. Her husband had given up a good job with housing in Vermont as a caretaker, so they could tend to Adrianne. As yet he has been unable to find employment, although he is not without skills with experience in carpentry and masonry. They had run off together when she was sixteen, the same age her oldest son is now. Her home life as a child had been difficult, her parents divorced, estranged and unable to help. She told me how blessed she and her husband were to remain in love, together with their beautiful kids. Intelligent and with a lively face, she relayed this remarkable journey in five minutes in front of BJ’s Wholesale Market to total strangers. I sensed no self-pity, no resignation, and no resentment, only hope with immense love for her family and for her faith.
We helped a little more, and I gave her my business card to give to her husband. I hope he calls. I hope I will be able to help to find a job for him.
What folly and unhappiness in our petty complaints, grudges and in our lack of gratitude for the everyday blessings of our lives. What joy and peace in perseverance, patience, forgiveness and a thankful heart.
“My life is but an instant, an hour which passes by. My life is a moment which I have no power to stay. You know, oh my God, that to love you here on earth – I have only today.” St. Therese of Lisieux