Spring and Summer

Living on these beautiful six hundred acres of land here at Ignatius Jesuit Centre for over 30 years I have come to love the changing seasons each of which has its own wondrous character.   Now it is spring, moving toward summer.

As much as I enjoyed the winter with its challenges of face-tearing winds and finger freezing cold, the bright beauty of snow covered fields and the opportunity for invigorating cross country skiing I am very ready for a change.

The song birds are returning with their bright colours and symphony of song.   Last week as I walked from the parking lot to my office the clear notes of a bright red cardinal at the peak of a tall spruce was celebrating its joyful return.  I sensed it was calling me to look up and delight in its beauty.   How could I not.

Then looking higher into the sky I caught sight of a silently soaring turkey vulture gracefully riding the wind.  It obviously ignored my greeting; “Welcome back!” But I felt good saying it.

My favourite poet Gerard Manley Hopkins says it well in his Spring with the opening line:

“Nothing is so beautiful as Spring –“ and later in the poem asks; “What is all this juice and all this joy”?

Yes we are moving into this juicy joyful season and soon the barren trees will be bursting into their glorious shades of yellows and greens. It always seems miraculous and lusher than the previous year.

Shedding winter boots and heavy coats certainly adds to the sense of lightness and joy.  This is indeed the time to celebrate Resurrection without ignoring the disappearance and diminishment of the number of birds and even whole species of them.  I miss seeing the little bobolinks with the clear white and yellow head and shoulder feathers embellishing their black body feathers and their cheery song that always made me think of the babbling of a brook or tiny water fall.

It is now several years since I used to look out my window each morning enthralled by the dipping, diving and soaring of a pair of marsh hawks.  I suppose the marsh has just become too dry for them.   Somehow these losses make all the more precious the beauty and sacredness of what remains.

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All photos courtesy of Brendan McManus, SJ

Bill Clarke, SJ, is a member of the team of spiritual directors at Loyola House of Ignatius Jesuit Centre of Guelph and continues his commitment to L'Arche.

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