I don’t know when I’ve been more thankful for the arrival of spring. Winter seems like it’s lasted a really long time.
I know we had spring last year – I remember sitting outside on my porch and enjoying nice weather. But the joy of spring was mixed in with the COVID, masks, economic downturn, and all the uncertainty that a global pandemic provides.
This spring, I know that corona is still around, but somehow the air feels a little bit different. There is a little more hope of possibility and renewal, and maybe even a little more lightness in my step.
I’m learning not to take these seasons of hope and renewal for granted. After weathering so many unexpected storms the past few years, I’m learning not to take stability for granted. Seasons of stability and chances for renewal are gifts to be received rather than the norm to be expected like I once thought.
So if you, like me, are excited and thankful for the hint of spring filling the air and want a way to dive right in, here are a few ways I like to open myself up to renewal:
Choose a different way to pray. I can get into a rut in my prayer life faster than anything else. I’ve found it’s good to pray in different rhythms in different seasons. If I am stuck forming my own prayers, it is helpful to use a sure-footed guide. Books that are forming and guiding my prayers this season are The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle and The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers.
Keep a Gratitude Journal. The past few months, each night before I go to bed, I’ve been writing down five specific things I am thankful for from that day. I’m noticing that it is keeping me expectant and looking for moments of renewal and thankfulness throughout my day. The gratitude journal I’ve been using is one my friend, Kori Biller, gave me. It’s currently sold out, but another good option is from Ink and Volt.
Think through your daily routine and do one thing differently. I am a creature of habit. Habits can be a good thing if they keep us moving towards the things that matter most. But they can also keep us stuck and resistant to change that is good for our brains and our bodies. This spring, one morning a week, I am getting up early and going to the gym with my husband to exercise. And I mean early. How Jason Baker consistently gets up and leaves the house at the hour he does is a mystery to me, but I decided to try it one time a week with him. I’m discovering this one small change is giving me the ability to look at the rest of my habits differently and be open to change in other areas of my life as well.
Read a good book…outside. Like most people, I love to be outside this time of year. I’ve found that spring is always a good time for me to sit in a lawn chair, stretch out on a blanket, or plop down on the grass in the middle of the the day and read for twenty minutes while soaking in the spring air. Not only does it force me to be still, but it helps me to pay attention to and enjoy the season of spring around me. Two good reads this spring are I am enjoying right now are Becoming Elisabeth Elliot by Ellen Vaughn and The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions by Emily P. Freeman.
Spend time with your neighbors. I know this is all something we learned and valued during COVID, but it’s something I don’t want to forget to value as the pace of life returns to “normal” once again. Some of the sweetest moments of last year occurred on the front lawn with my neighbors. Lifetime friendships were formed as we learned to love and support one another, and we saw so many changes in each other’s lives for the good. Changes I would have missed if I had stayed inside. So this spring, don’t forget to go spend time getting to know the people on who live in closest proximity to you.
Remember that the end is in sight. If the past year has taught me one thing, it is this: seasons were made to change; they do not last forever. So whatever season you are in, notice it. Be aware. And dive right in. We’ve been in winter a long time, but where the snow is melting and green is pushing through, don’t miss it. Grab it. Receive it. Seize the day, and step into the rhythms of renewal while the season lasts. Spring awaits.
For more encouragement throughout the week, you can find me on Instagram, @baker.susannah.