I like all the seasons but Spring is probably my favourite.  I like it for many reasons, not least for the lengthening and warmer days.  And, of course, it always contains Easter when we celebrate the supreme Christian festival of the Resurrection, the single most important event which altered the course of human history.  And I always associate it with one of my favourite poets, Gerard Manley Hopkins, who penned one of the most beautiful poems in its honour.

“Nothing is so beautiful as Spring when weeds in wheels shoot long and lovely and lush ..” (Spring).

Hopkins was enraptured by nature: his poetry frequently conveys a sense of wonder at the sheer variety of the natural world.  He even coined a word for it – inscape – to describe the way he viewed the individual uniqueness of every physical thing as evidence of God.  In another poem, Pied Beauty, he seems unable to control his excitement and the result is a riot of words: “All things counter, original, spare, strange/Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)/With swift, slow; sweet, sour, adazzle, dim;/He fathers forth whose beauty is past change:/Praise him”.

Spring is the time when the landscape seems poised for something of greatness and the very air sparkles with the promise of something magical to come.  I even like the occasional April shower.  Indeed, after such a shower one can almost smell the wet earth, the leaves heavy with raindrops and the mossy branches shining electric green. “And for all this, nature is never spent:/There lives the dearest freshness deep down things” (God’s Grandeur).

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Maybe our practice of “spring cleaning” has something to do with the way Spring awakens and refreshes the natural world after the long, cold sleep of winter.  We like to rid our living (and work) spaces of the clutter accumulated over the winter and clean things in preparation for the long sunny days of summer.  But how about some “spring cleaning ” for the soul?

Eastertide is a good time for taking stock of our lives and asking questions like: what sort of person am I, what are my views and values, what do I really believe in?  A good time for a reality check!  We could surely do worse during these days of lockdown than take a leaf from the natural world and strive to renew/refresh our lives.  Hopkins again:
“Because the Holy Ghost over the bent/World broods with warm breast and with ah! Bright wings” (God’s Grandeur).

Fr. Gerry McFlynn

Author Fr. Gerry McFlynn

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