We really have had an awful winter.Â In fact I feel sorry for the weathermen and women as they are introduced on the radio and television again and again with the dismal question,
ÂCan you give us any good news?Â
To which the answer is always,
No change: bitterly cold wind, Âthe beast from the eastÂ as it has been called, snow that has drifted to the height of walls, grey sky after grey sky and all this as April looms.Â In the garden the daffodils, if you can see them, look defeated, their buds tight shut, their leaves yellowed with cold; and the branches of the evergreens are weighed down with snow so that I have to dip right down to pass under them.
How wonderful therefore to hear someone say cheerfully a couple of days ago that we were to stop worrying.Â It is always Âdarkest before dawnÂ; spring is coming and soon.Â And what a pleasure it was also to think as I knocked snow off fir branches so that they would not break under the weight, of the wonderful words of Isaiah 55: 12,
ÂFor you shall go out in joy and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.Â
ÂThe trees of the field shall clap their handsÂ refers to what the branches of these beautiful Cedar trees do as the snow melts.Â The branches are weighed down with snow much as the fir trees are near me.Â As the snow melts and drops off the branches, released,Â spring upwards hitting the branches above them and making a sound as of trees clapping.Â What an amazing and joyful sound it must have been in forests and fields Â a sign that spring was coming even though snow was still about.
In Holy Week we remember darkness and death, suffering and shame, and the extraordinary commitment of Jesus to his vocation. It is a very cold time, a very dark time.Â But, like this winter, we know it will end.Â We know the darkest and coldest time is just before the dawn.Â But we look forward to Easter Day, the new dawn, spring returning when we can all say, ÂLife has come again!Â
And we will all clap our hands with joy as the darkness and coldness drops away and we realise that ChristÂs death has released us.Â We are free.