Friday, April 3, 2009

Hope Cometh in the Morning

Hope Cometh in the Morning

By Cappy Hall Rearick

"Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."

I eagerly await the last hard freeze of the season when the cold, hard earth wakes up and and leaps into spring with blooms that proclaim rebirth. It is then that I throw off my overcoat and wander around outside, astonished at the beauty surrounding me as if I'm strolling through the Garden of Eden.

Things were not so astonishing when I lived out West. Southern California is certainly overrun with palm trees and bougainvillea, and the hills are very alive with the blooms of Magnolias. The Oaks are almost as tall and droopy with moss as if they were grown right here in Georgia. What they don't have, and what I missed so much each Spring, were Dogwood trees.

What a culture shock it was when I discovered I was living in a state devoid of the beautiful four-cornered, white flowering tree that presents itself each spring for one reason only: to remind us of what Easter is all about.

I found no lightning bugs out there in California, either. On warm summer nights, I often gazed from my windows hoping to see a little lightning bug flicker across the dark sky in search of his or her one true love. I marvel that California kids actually go through an entire childhood without once housing lightning bugs inside a Dukes Mayonnaise jar, holes punched in the top with an ice pick.

As the Spring seasonal changes began moving toward Easter, I always felt emotionally compromised, aching to gaze upon azaleas and dogwoods on lawn after lawn mixed with yellow daffodils and tulips. My soul yearned for a glimpse of the flowers and trees of the Southeastern Low Country.

The exhibition of colorful azaleas and roses that blossomed in the Edisto Gardens in the small town where I grew up presented a living painting beyond my ability to describe. Monet would have been beside himself with creativity. Countless dogwood trees, robust with blossoms nothing short of dramatic, backed up each shade, hue and color of azalea. It was a sight to see.

At Easter, all the area church choirs gathered to sing at the Sunrise Service held in the midst of the burgeoning Edisto Gardens. The flowers, discerning their role in the planned program, managed to slash through the fog of early morning light to deliver hope to all those awaiting the sunrise.

Folks not in the choir moved quietly up the hill hoping to find the best perch on which to listen to Easter music and hear the message of hope. I remember watching them gather in the dark, greeting one another with a hug or handshake and always a smile.

What a magnificent sight when the sun did come up. Standing on the slight incline we called a hill, I looked out at a spring bouquet of flowers stretching over a two-mile radius. It was a perpetual mural, the official nod of spring welcoming the new season, rich with the birth of flowers as colorful as Easter Eggs that sprouted from grass as green as shamrocks.

The choir sang, "Up From The Grave He Arose," "In The Garden," "On a Hill Far Away," and other familiar Easter hymns. Friends and neighbors in our little town greeted Easter as the sun slowly crept up, yawning itself into the newborn day — God's other gift to humankind.

So that’s it, the reason I look forward to the last cold snap, the final week of shivers, socks and sweaters. No doubt I'll fret over the bulbs I put in the ground, and I'll need to pray hard for the survival of the already stressed out hydrangeas I bought on sale and planted in the side yard.

But when it’s all said and done, I will rely on the things I learned at those chilly Easter Sunrise Services. I will depend on my early conditioning to fill me again with faith that our garden, as well as our world, will once again burst into bloom.

I will look for flickering lightening bugs outside my windows, and when the morning comes, I will love that I can wake up to azaleas, dogwoods, daffodils and tulips.

Meanwhile, I'll collect Dukes Mayonnaise jars for my grandkids who might one day show their children the magic of catching lightning bugs on warm summer nights here in the Georgia Lowcountry.