Tempus Vernum

It is the very image of creation.

The season of rebirth, the season of renewal, the season of resurrection…

Greening…springtime…tempus vernum.

After a long, cold winter, a season to be eagerly embraced, as a drowning person lunges out of the surf onto the sanity of a warm beach…

Or, after a winter or a lifetime of weary disappointments, a season to be shunned…

After a nearly impossible passage through the blizzard-bound passes of the Sierra Nevada, the parka-clad driver steps out into a gentle rain on the streets of Sacramento…

Or, after a winter of ruinous debts, a misery that is mocked by a profusion of green and a riot of flowers; nauseating in it’s sticky-sweet connotations, viewed in all of it’s saccharine simplicity, seen as the exclusive province of the simple or the simply young or the simply in love…


Some of us smile and some of us shudder.

Some of us join in the spirit of the season and some of us walk away from it.

It depends on where we come from.

For our circumstances are not automatically enlivened by the advent of spring.

And our feelings about those circumstances do not automatically snap to attention in the presence of those who celebrate spring, no matter how contagious the smile and no matter how great the pressure to conform.

No matter how many robins have been spotted.

No matter how many trees are leafing.

No matter how gloriously the temperature spikes.

Now, I would be glad to speak out against any principle-bound puritans who, in the spirit of Merrymount, would seek to tear down a riotous celebration around a Maypole.

But I would rigorously defend those who walk away from such celebrations on the grounds that they just “aren’t feeling it”.

For those who have unfinished business with the season of cold, whether that business is the concrete reality of their wallets or the midwinter in their hearts, there is no automatic cure when the sun crosses the equator.


For some of us, it can be so wearisome hearing others prattle on about the advent of spring.

As if feel-good were the most important part of anything.

So have many good things been diminished in value.

So has everything from Christmas to Easter to all four seasons been diminished in value.

Of course, people do have a right to prattle on about anything.

And the ultimate responsibility lies with the listeners, to the extent that they have ever bought into the cheap sales talk that says that the right moment will make everything all right.

For, by themselves, neither Christmas Eve, nor Easter morning, nor the Fourth of July, nor Mother’s Day nor any other celebration that is based on the solar/lunar calendars will make everything all right.

And no amount of pressure from others, no matter how well intended, and no amount of guilt for not “feeling the moment” will make everything all right.

So, in Spring, it can be easy to walk away from a self-satisfied witness to predictable botanical cycles.

Which may give one the odd sensation of having abandoning Pollyanna for the sake of embracing Ebenezer Scrooge.


Yet there may be a way of entering Spring that avoids that particular Scylla and Charybdis. 

A side door into the celebration, one that circumvents the light gaiety of the seasonal celebrants and the frowns of their detractors.

A way that is outside the box.

Aptly so, perhaps, for Spring itself does not fit into a box.

In nature, Spring is not nearly so nice as some of it’s cheerleaders would suggest.

It is disorderly.

It is about things that run out-of-bounds and things that run willy-nilly.

Spring is about floods, and not just the watery kind.

To be sure, it is partly about rivers that run rampant.

But it is also about flowing mud, flowing waves of color, wildflowers that come up where they will, lawns and gardens that reconfigure themselves as they will and, in the forests, thickets of brambles that have completely rearranged themselves since last fall.

Spring is about turning every available piece of ground from brown to green, as quickly as possible and through whatever means necessary, courtesy of the seeds we’ve dropped and the seeds the birds have dropped, courtesy of those unseen runners that deepened in the fall and that surface even now, according to their own plans.

Left to it’s own devices, Spring has but little to do with our plans.

It is life run riot.

With flagrance and persistence.


Readers may reflect that I have spoken before in praise of riotousness, whether in reference to fall, Christmas or Easter.

I do believe that an appearance of disorder, as well as persistence, are hallmarks of authentic love.

Love, like Spring, has never fit into a box.

For if we cast a critical eye on God’s love or a neighbor’s love, we may well conclude that it is an outpouring that is indiscriminate, seemingly random and improvised, out of all proportion to our notions of rightness, fitness or justice.

Spring is an apt reflection of that love.

In it’s disorder and it’s persistence.

For it will not give up, no matter how jaded we may become.

It will not give up, no matter how cynical we may become.

It will not give up, no matter how long it has been, in the words of Chris Van Allsburg,  since we have heard the bell of Christmas.

It will keep calling, no matter how many bitter disappointments it recalls; no matter how much pain it recalls; no matter how much frustration it recalls, no matter how much weariness it evokes.

It will keep calling, like the lighthouse that never ceases, until it flashes into some part of ourselves and finds a response.

It cannot do otherwise.

For it is a reflection of the source and resource of the world.

It is the continuous flush of life, the overflowing of nurture into nature.

It is the overabundant tide of gratuitous love.

Which was the only reason for creation.

In which we are called to participate by imitation.

To spread gratuitous love.

Through the imitation of the most high.

It is God as God is, and we as we are meant to be.

What we have not seen, what we have not heard, what we have glossed over in focusing on a more superficial joy, or what we have walked away from in weary contempt, is nothing less than the calling on our lives.

It is us.

Spring is about turning every available piece of ground from brown to green…

Gratuitous love…

Through the imitation of the most high.

And in that riot of love, we may breed hope, for when things are turned upside down and all things are possible, then hope can be born.

And in that riot, we may breed faith, for riot beggars explication.


A message that may be spoken to us in all kinds of dialects....

Pollyanna, yes.

But in any number of other ways, as well.

It may be heard as the staff flowers in the last bars of Wagner’s Tannhauser; in the triumphant shout that ends the lyrics of Delius’s Requiem; in the sentimentality of Sigmund Romberg’s “Maytime” or in the somber, insistent chant of Enya’s “Tempus Vernum”.

It is the mystery of God encanted in the mystery of ourselves.

Encanted in springtime.

Encanted in tempus vernum.


This ends the fifth and final part of the current series on love.


I post new articles twice-monthly in “Author’s Corner”.

If you live in or near the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, and you would be interested in meeting with others for discussion and/or prayer, please contact me at rob@towarddawn.org.  All are welcome, regardless of identity or personal choices.  Please understand that I do not have the resources to guarantee that I will be able to read or respond to all other correspondence.

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                                                                                                                                                              Rob Wright

Rob Wright holds advanced degrees in education and performing arts, and he has been a professional teacher for over sixteen years.  In his home denomination, he has served as a lay minister in liturgical, educational and ecumenical activities.  He lives in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire with his spouse of twenty years and their daughter.