The Light of Spring

February 14, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015

Gerard Manley Hopkins in his poem "Spring" opens with the words:

Nothing is so beautiful as Spring—
With weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightening to hear him sing:

This opening to a poem depicting the arrival of Spring is powerful in expressing the energy and vitality that the awakening of the first of the earth’s seasons brings. It is beautiful to witness. The arrival of Spring traditionally was celebrated on February 1st. The celebrations were in the context of the power of light and its effect on our inner selves and on the spiritual uplifting we attain through the power of light. The diocese of Kildare and Loughlin is dedicated to Saint Lazarian and Saint Bridget. Both these names have much the same meaning—Lazarian translated means ‘the power of light’ and Bridget means ‘shining light.’

February 1st is also known as Candelmas Day. On this day in the past, (especially in rural pre- electrification times), people would eat their evening meal without lighting the candle and the family chorus would sing ‘On Candlemas day throw candles and candle-holders away and eat your supper in the light of the day.' This was another way of confirming that the light of Spring had arrived and there was brightness ahead.

To witness the life in the Irish countryside in Spring is most beautiful. The bird life is ready and waiting to get on with the nature’s routine of reproduction, they have nest sites to find. They have partners to find. They have bird songs to sing. They have predators to fight off and many aspects of daily routine to cope with.

There are many other activities of life, such as the growth of flowers, already the gardens are white with Snowdrops, buds are beginning to peep out from within their outer layer, no doubt checking the light and warmth. The rivers are cascading along and accepting the overflow of water due to recent heavy rain, every aspect of nature is bright and energetic.

Gerald Manley spent part of his mission as a Jesuit priest in Ireland. So it may be Ireland he wrote about when he wrote his poem "Nothing Is So Beautiful As Spring." This certainly holds true for today in Ireland and doubtless elsewhere. So the light of Spring and the new beginning is here for all to experience and enjoy. With joy in our hearts we can look to the future and experience the beauty that is enfolding us.