My hands dug at the ground tentatively. It had been some time since I'd been able to think beyond my next breath, and productivity felt foreign. But there I sat, on my knees, in a flower bed in my backyard, breathing the chilly November air and thinking of spring.
It was the late autumn of 2002, and I was emerging, ever so slowly, from the darkest time of my life. For months I had been paralyzed by depression and anxiety. But as November arrived, and the earth began to fall asleep for the winter, something inside me began to awaken. Medication, prayer and the love of my family had pulled me back from the brink, and I stepped out of my "bunker" blinking in the sunlight and walking very slowly. But I was walking. Gently forward, each day a little easier than the next, I was moving toward Hope.
And so it was I sat in my flower bed that day, overcome by the need to get my hands in the dirt. I had some hyacinth bulbs that had been tucked in my fridge for some time, and I knew I needed to get them in the ground before the first freeze. I turned the bulbs over in my dirty hands--they looked like misshapen onions, with brittle flakes coming off the sides and dead-looking scraggles sticking out of the tops. I stared at them for some time, marveling that something beautiful would shoot out of that clumpy, brown mess in just a few short months. But with faith in my soil and my Miracle-Gro, I tucked a few bulbs into the ground.
I sat back and patted the ground where they were buried. They were powerful symbols to me of my own journey--something ugly and dead-ish, held in the hands of a Creator who wasn't afraid to get His hands dirty.
My bulbs lay still and waited for spring. My heart waited with them.
And spring indeed came, both to the hyacinths, and to me. In an explosion of electric blue color, those gorgeous bulbs gave me their very best that March. And I, further down my path of healing, was able to rejoice--in the beauty of a blue flower, in the warmth of spring, in the faithfulness of a God whose mercies are new again and again.
Those dark days are now a distant memory, and my steps are no longer slow and tentative. Sometimes it's easy to forget just how dark those times were. But then every year spring comes, and every year that plucky hyacinth shows his face to me, reminding me of my long journey toward hope. He appeared this weekend, and I greeted my old friend (though not for long, as he was mowed down by an unforgiving GI Joe truck).
I laughed, and I remembered, and I gratefully turned my face to the sun.