Springtime With Mary: Trust, Light, and Fertile Ground

Unveiling spring’s spiritual lessons ...

Mary among the blooms
Mary among the blooms (photo: Bridget McCartney Nohara)

Living in the North, I have a particular fondness for springtime. From northern Ohio to Ontario, Canada — both places I’ve called home — winters can be harsh, but there is an unparalleled thrill when spring arrives. As it approaches, I pay close attention to the first buds and blooms and listen attentively to the birds who have returned from their winter reprieve. There is a swell of anticipation in the air that grows each day.

As I tune into nature, I wonder if Jesus is doing — or wants to do — similar things in my heart. This season, as I joyfully anticipate the life and light that summer will bring, I’m reflecting on three concepts that I’m learning from both the season and the Spirit. And with springtime containing the month of May, I’m reflecting on all of this with my Mother Mary.


Trust Hidden Growth

Have you ever planted a tulip bulb? This fall was the first time for me. Inspired by seeing bags of them at the garden center, I picked up a dozen and promptly called my mom to ask what my next step was. She instructed that all I needed to do was tuck them shallowly into the ground, and the rest would take care of itself. I followed her directions and quickly had all the bulbs planted.

The simplicity of the process struck me deeply. I was in disbelief that this bulb, only a few inches deep, would weather a brutal Canadian winter and emerge as a bright, lovely flower. It sounded impossible. But, sure enough, as spring came along, I saw the signs of life bursting through the ground — the promise was fulfilled.

As I watched the green stems grow and develop into the flowers that my mom assured me they would, I thought about the many intentions I’ve put before the throne of God and entrusted to Our Lady, wondering if anything might ever come of them, especially in the midst of a spiritual winter. Seeing this tulip burst forth from the earth after months of hidden growth encouraged me to continue to pray and surrender, for Jesus often does unseen work.

This spring, I’m reflecting on this concept of hidden growth, inviting the Lord to reveal to me where he has been working under the surface, where new life might be sprouting in me, and where he’s asking me to trust him in what is still veiled.

Mary lived with Jesus throughout his hidden life, the years we know little about — pondering how she prepared her heart in anticipation of both the grief and the glory that was to come, and then I strive to do the same.

I’m keeping Padre Pio’s words close, too: “Pray, hope, and don’t worry.”


Let Light In

To me, there is nothing so sweet as drawing back the curtains, opening the blinds and swinging wide the doors on the first warm, sunny days of springtime. After months of gloomy weather and low-slung clouds, stepping out into fresh air and bright light heals and rejuvenates me, both physically and spiritually.

As sunlight fills my home and warms my body, I remember the closeness of Christ, my Light. Eucharistic adoration was once described to me by a wise theology professor with the image of one resting in the sun. Regardless of where our minds wander, the sun touches us, warms us, relaxes us. We can’t help but be affected by it! The professor encouraged us, likewise, to put ourselves before the Son, Jesus in the Eucharist, as often as we possibly could.

This spring, I’m opening my heart up to Christ’s light, especially through his gift of himself in the Eucharist and allowing him to transform me by the power of his presence. On days my questions feel unanswered, my world feels a little dark or cold, and I wonder how near he really is, I will hold onto the truth that, like the sun, he is pouring into everything I do. Daily examens and meditative prayer are methods that help me open my heart to Christ, to experience his light anew.

Our Lady was perfectly receptive to Christ and his light. I imagine she and Jesus spending sweet moments together, perhaps doing simple daily tasks, but all with deep meaning and purpose because she was with her Savior. I try to remember Mary and Jesus working together when I am busy with the duties of daily life, and then draw my attention to the reality that they are here with me now, illuminating everything. Jesus promises that he will always be with us, and he gave us his mother for the same purpose. In my work and leisure, I relish this reality, finding comfort in the Rosary or simply conversing with them through silent prayer.

As Register contributor and Theology of Home author and editor Emily Malloy told the Register, “Our Lady provides the perfect example of the hidden life which is contrary to the ‘role models’ of the world, all of whom possess a public life steeped in superficiality. Yet, it is the quiet docility of Our Lady in her vocation in those unrecorded years as mother and daughter of God that is manifest at the foot of the cross. Quiet externalizations of love within the home (a meal, a flower arrangement, a hug) is an extraordinary antidote to that which ails the world. The loving touches in our own hidden lives are what will bear the most fruit in the years to come.”

Tulips continue to bloom during the month of Mary.
Tulips continue to bloom during the month of Mary.(Photo: Bridget McCartney Nohara)Copyright 2024. All rights reserved.


Find Fertile Ground

Considering where I might plant a few flowers and place a few pots this year, I look around my yard with a critical eye. I ask myself questions like: Where is there sun and shade? Where is the earth ripe for planting? What do I hope becomes of this place? Then, I get to work, doing my best with what I have.

Similarly, in prayer, I ask the Spirit to show me where there is fertile ground in my life. Where am I called to grow, and where might there be something already springing up? Are there places I am experiencing abundance that I could pour out? 

Michelle Benzinger of Abiding Together put it this way as she reflected on the spiritual nature of springtime: “I need to relearn [how] to live in the abundant life again and to practice resurrection, and to come back to life.” Referencing Song of Songs 2:11, Benzinger declares, “Winter has passed, and the spring has come.”

In seeking to live abundantly, I go to Mary — she truly knows about bearing fruit! Our Lady guides me gently, helping me cultivate my hopes and dreams and suggesting through intercession what might need to move or be pulled up before new planting efforts in the soil and my soul.

As philosophy professor John Cuddeback observed recently on his blog, “The upcoming weeks are the time to hear the call of the ‘ordinary’ deep in our hearts, and respond. Let us get ready to turn to our loved ones, and together enact what we are being prompted to do this spring. Will it be the incomparable work of sowing seeds and growing bodily (and spiritual!) sustenance from the earth?” 

Cuddeback also would have us consider, “Home is the place to relate meaningfully to the natural world. Home is where living in a responsible and stewardly way has its main instance. Consider the great possibility that opens before us.”

In this blooming season, there is so much to look forward to and a lot of work to do. Through Jesus and Mary, we are given all that we need to accomplish it well. May we, looking with attentive eyes on the created world around us, learn more about what he is doing through the seasons he created.

Wishing you a blessed spring!