“Hope springs eternal in the human breast,” said poet Alexander Pope in An Essay on Man (1732). I say, spring gives eternal hope.
I’ve lived in a place once where there was no spring. Where you measured the April snowfall by chin-depths, quickly melting into May’s mud and finally a short summer’s heat. We pretended summer was spring, but it quickly evaporated into autumn showing us it was just a delusion.
In the Pacific Northwest, there’s just enough snow to make you a kid again, until you must drive in it. Then you become nervous old man, or woman. But then comes the season of cold, black rain. A rain so cold that Mark Twain would probably say it, “You need to heat it up over a fire to give it a chance at snow.” It is depressing.
They say that “If you have your health … then you have everything.” Therefore, I have nothing. I’ve lost the aspiration of ever having a day when I feel well again while I’m still on this earth. There will never be a day again that I’m not running from the Reaper, each blood test a near miss. So much to be hopeless about. But then—.
Sunday morning was a day, after going to bed with the sound and feel of the cold, black rain, you wake up to the sound of birds in a near-cloudless sky. Where the yolk-yellow sun slides up and over our jagged peaks and slips across the teal sky, leaving a trail like a snail and skirting behind sheer-laced cirrostratus clouds. Those clouds, only here or there, and dry, only for show.
Is this spring? No, only a prelude.
We had to go to the store, so why not go to store on the island south of us? For getting there requires driving through sharp curves and steep hill cathedral-ed by old growth firs and cedars, across two stunning, two-hundred-foot bridges over salt water, some of the most incredible bridges in the world. Then more ten miles where you are encircled on all points of the compass by zagged mountains carrying heavy winters snows on their strutting chests like the pied (white-chested) crow.
We so journeyed in a little convertible, my five-grand gift to myself when I was told I was dying will never travel again and will be hooked to machine four days a week until that death. It was a postage-size place of hopeless sanity, a way to get to the machines. But yesterday, on a much better day, it transported us under that yolk-yellow sun, through those catherdral-ed trees, and over the glorious iron-arched bridges into bliss.
There is nothing like living on a mountain lake in the spring. The otters are out, the eagles are as common as crows, the ducks parading in rows, and our mountain breathes in foggy breaths. Spring brings us hope. If such living makes you jealous—and it should—I will still trade it with you if the cancer stays.
I see the world in philosophical glasses, for me it is a must. It makes sense of everything, where we’ve been, what we really think, and where we are going. I tried it the other way and it did not work. In this new (30-year-old) framework, I’ve found an intimate personal-creator-God that makes sense of meaning and morals. For without, there can be neither.
I’ve grown to despise the air-brushed religion I once was. For its purpose was a self-centered, group conformity with the purpose to make me appear better than I really was. A pretense. If not that, it was an equally self-centered seeking of emotional experiences that I/we baptized under “spiritual” labels. Because it is so self-absorbed and has no selfless end, I now call that “spiritual masturbation.” I do love emotions, profoundly, for what they really are, God-given to make use human, but not within them is encased the divine. If so, magic mushrooms are the true route to “godliness.”
I despise politics, for it is much like religion about pretense and power. They cloud the world with cliches and emotional reasoning rather than truth. Emotional reason always leads to tribalism and hate. Religious hate is the worse hate in the world. We could be living in a world without hate. Without hunger. Without war. Without injustice and without making nature so sick, that it must drive to the machine to stay alive. John Lennon was right on that regard. It is all within reach. Such a world is God’s aspiration and intention.
Then I think of the hope that spring brings me. I spent Saturday with 3/5ths of my adult children in Seattle and yesterday the other two. My children, like spring, bring me hope. They are each doing well, and that has nothing to do with money. They are a legacy that tells me my life wasn’t a complete waste. It answers Private Ryan’s last question, “Was my life really worth it?”
My children see the world as it really is, not the way their religion, clan, or politics tell them to see it, to meet the “I am better than the rest” status, or some funky emotional experience, or my tribe is “in power” endgame. I hear them searching for meaning and morals within that world and they will eventually discover, like I did, that there are neither without an intended creation by a moral and meaningful God. But I hope they never discover experiences, religion, or politics as subsites for morals and meaning with the false thinking hope lies within it, for such thinking always disappoints in the end.
But I ended the day, the yolk-yellow sun slipping beyond the western spiky and snow-clad peaks. His visit wasn’t spring, but a respite, him coming out of his dark cave to stretch, to take in a deep breath, and to smile and a reminder that there is hope and real spring is coming.