You could see it everywhere this week. On sidewalks, in schools, in offices, malls and grocery stores, people old and young had a fresh bounce in their step. Faces too long cast warily downward were instead blooming with smiles, even for strangers. Gone were the heavy winter coats, like a burden cast aside. Marylanders were basking in a verity as old as the world and as fresh as this Easter morning: However deep the chill, winter eventually gives way to the miracle of spring.
In other winters, the first signs of spring somehow seemed inevitable. Not this year, when storm after storm built up layers of ice and snow through which only the hardiest bulbs could push their way. But snow drops, bluebells and the fragile green tips that herald daffodils and tulips and hyacinths are steady and patient. Their persistence has been rewarded, and now rewards a reawakening world.
First the bulbs produce their flowers, and soon the buds burst into blossoms. At last, the world is on the verge of bloom again.
With spring comes renewal. When warm breezes and longer days coincide with sacred calendars, Nature underscores the ancient truths that teach us the lessons of redemption and rebirth. Along with leaves and blossoms and stirring life, spring brings Passover and Easter and the rituals through which Jews and Christians celebrate these mysteries.
For Jews, Passover is a ritual of remembrance -- of the road from slavery to freedom, of continuity between generations, of an all-sustaining God. As Christians move through Holy Week, they re-live the ancient roller coaster of passions, from the joyous Palm Sunday parade to the crowd's taunts at an ignominious death. Then after the grief and darkness of Good Friday comes Easter's glorious rebirth.
Passover reminds us that even when freedom seems impossible, there are forces that can break through the ordinary and seize us from the shackles of slavery. Easter trumpets tell a weary world that death doesn't end the story, that even when all hope seems gone this creation and we who inhabit it can yet be redeemed.
Ice melts. Spring comes. Life stirs. And hope swells a world weary of wars and bondage, ignominy and death. This Passover-Easter season, may that hope bring stirrings of new life to a world forever in need of redemption, always hungry for rebirth.