Growing up in Suffolk I have always looked forward to the first signs of spring. Snowdrops, aconites, violets and catkins always offered hope of warmer weather to come even as snow was on the ground. I admit I am no great shakes as a gardener despite many of my family having green fingers. In fact many of my spring bulbs were dug up almost straight away last year by a rather cheeky squirrel that lives close ….including my favourite snowdrops.
I was amazed to find that there are over two thousand different species of snowdrops world wide. The snowdrops in the photograph are not from my garden but courtesy of a friend whose garden is always a joy to visit.
Snowdrops are amazing little flowers. They have their own built in anti- freeze that allows them to close down when it is really cold to the point that it looks like they are dead yet once the ground warms they spring back to life, They also have hardened leaf tips to enable them to push through frozen earth. They are related to the much more exuberant amaryllis family.
In our Christian journey the Holy Spirit can sometimes act like anti- freeze when we feel spiritually cold and life seems bleak. It is there with us throughout waiting patiently for warmth and space for us to grow. It can also act like the hardened leaf tips of the snowdrop to give us strength and tenacity to find a way through the hard times we inevitably meet on the way. In his letter to the church in Rome St Paul writes “May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him ,so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15v13)
Snowdrops have long been seen as symbolic for new beginnings, hope, rebirth and the ability to overcome challenges in life. The late Kate McIlhagga, a member of the Iona community, wrote this poem about snow drops called;
A green Heart
In a dark world
A snowdrop comes
Of hope and peace
Carrying within it
A green heart
Symbol of Gods renewing love.
Come to inhabit our darkness
For dark and light
Are alike to you
May natures white candles of hope
Remind us of your birth
And light our journey
Through Lent and beyond
(From The Green Heart of the Snowdrop 2004 Wild Goose Publications)
As we look for those signs of new life in our gardens and our countryside may we be aware that these signs are a gift of new beginnings to be appreciated prayerfully and with thanks.
Maggie Woods (Vice President elect)