The First Whisper
I made the same right turn I do every day. And then down the small hill and another right turn. It is a path the car knows well.
Meandering down the gravel driveway, I could hear what remained of the ice crunching underneath the tires. The sounds of confession. The ice would not be able to last much longer.
I pulled in the garage and stepped out of the car. Life is full of ritual and habit. The things we do without thinking.
I broke the routine last night. Instead of going in the house I stopped. I left the garage door open. I walked outside. I stood there and looked and listened.
The tortured cracking of the ice was no more. Instead I heard birds chirping. I heard the sound of water running down the roof and into the gutter. The loud dripping in the downspout conducting the melted snow and ice away from the house. I felt the warmth of the sun.
Last night I heard the first whisper of spring.
As you read these words you have taken multiple breaths. All without noticing one of them. All without the conscious intent to breathe.
You breathe because you must. You breathe because it is critical. A habit you won’t do without.
Twenty times a minute. 1,200 times an hour. 28,800 breaths a day.
You breathe because each breath is life.
It wasn’t the loudest I have heard spring speak. It wasn’t a roar. It wasn’t an announcement. It was merely a whisper. It would have been easy to miss.
Most birds are still quiet. The trees are still naked.
The louder sounds of spring are yet to come. They are fast approaching and nothing will stop them. Not even the cold nights.
After the long, hard, brutal winter, the whisper is enough. The whisper is beautiful.
Have you ever held your breath a little too long?
A game to see who can swim the farthest underwater? A dare to see who can hold their breath the longest? The prick of a needle from a shot stealing your breath for a moment?
Then, suddenly, when you finally breath again, the air tastes sweeter. The oxygen warms your lungs and your soul. You feel alive in a way you didn’t the moment before.
The sweetest breath comes after you go without.
I know the sounds of spring I heard are only a whisper because I have heard the roar of spring before. I know, based on previous experience, what I heard last night is merely a shadow of what is to come.
I know that buds on trees will break through the bark. I know that heavy storms will splatter raindrops on the windows. I know that thunder will split the quiet of night and lightning will fill the dark sky. I know that the long silent tulip bulb will break through the ground and blossom, exploding with color.
I know that something better is coming. But for now, I can hear even the faintest whisper of spring because it has been quiet for so long.
I am listening.
All of us are alive. But we are too busy to notice.
We focus on today and the tasks on our to-do list. We struggle through the sleepiness of the early morning. We focus on getting through the eight hour shift. We get the mail and pay the bills. We prepare and eat food.
Life is as precious as the air we breathe. Life is as beautiful as the singing of the birds. It is as short as the fading of the sun.
Love is the breath of life.
What will wake us up?
What will open our ears to hear the whisper of life?