Snow Squirrels and Pipe Cleaner Chickens

Snow Squirrels and Pipe Cleaner Chickens
By Laurel Droz

“For everything there is a season…” Ecclesiastes 3:1
“And the sky is a hazy shade of winter.” Simon & Garfunkel

It’s April in Michigan, and the earth here is still in wrapped in winter’s grey blanket. Beneath the hard ground I know, logically, there are buds and blooms ready to pierce the dirt and climb upward toward the sun, but it’s hard to believe.

The seemingly unyielding cold has kept the frogs from singing and the trees from unfurling their greenery. It’s kept my snow shovel from its resting place in the garage, standing guard instead by my front porch, ready to be put to use should it snow instead of thunder.

The weather matches my mood. It’s an easy metaphor to say we have seasons of our own. There are times of tremendous growth, flowering with creativity and connection and forward momentum. Friendships bloom effortlessly, ideas take root, the world feels warm and bright and inviting. But then there are these days too. Days that leave you wanting to tuck inward like the trees that have shed their leaves, preserving and protecting what is inside from what is outside. In these times things don’t grow, and still others wither on the vine.  It’s a private winter that can leave you wondering if spring will ever come again.

The snow was falling on Holy Cross Church at our staff  meeting Monday. But across the barren landscape a squirrel flitted and pranced. It seemed giddy and exuberant, an odd contrast to the somber earth. It acted the way squirrels do in spring.  It was oddly reassuring.

Even if it feels like some winters will never end, they all do. It’s a truth so universal that even the squirrels know it. The sleeping seeds still call to them, telling them to be excited because something wonderful is about to happen promising spring, even as the snow flies.

Last week was wintery, inside and out. Some weeks are. But when I stopped by the church the family life intern, Mallorie, handed me a small cellophane bag with a plastic Easter egg in it. The egg had a tiny pipe cleaner chick inside. Such a small thing, literally and figuratively, but it was, to me, sunshine in the middle of winter. It was a little gesture that meant a lot, reminding me that kind people, the sort who give you a pipe cleaner chicken in the middle of a rough week, are out here, caring about us, shining light and love in ways big and small.

I put the chicken in a small plant I have on my windowsill. When I look at it I thaw a little. I bask in the warmth of that gesture. And I believe spring may come after all.

You never know what season it is for the people around you, or how much a small bit of kindness might mean. May we all find a way to trust in spring like squirrels in the snow, and to remember that sometimes a pipe cleaner chicken can shine like the sun.

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