Rainbow5

“Nor would the stress
Of life be bearable for tender things
Did not so long a respite come between
The cold and heat, and heaven’s indulgence grant
This comfort to the world.”
Virgil, Georgics II

I must be a tender thing. I cannot picture bearing the stress of life without spring.

But at issue here is much more than stress relief.

G.M. Hopkins writes: “Nothing is so beautiful as spring— When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush… What is all this juice and all this joy?” Virgil finds in spring an obvious fruit of heavenly indulgence: this life-giving stretch of warmth, light, and green, wedged between the cold of winter and the heat of summer. It can be felt and seen, smelled and heard, when we walk out the door on an April morning. It breathes new life into us, as it does into field and wood, inspiring us to take up the proverbial hoe and apply it to the rows of our life.

Yet perhaps the more ultimate gift of spring is the assurance it conveys of an all-encompassing benevolence. As Virgil himself seems to suggest, how can spring be anything but the fruit of a fatherly indulgence? An indulgence wherein spring itself is part of a larger plan, where what was conceived in winter, waxes strong in spring, but bears fruit only later.

Perhaps if I truly respond to the gift that is spring—by seeing it for what it is, and then taking up my hoe, I like a tender shoot will grow strong: capable not only of bearing stress, but of bearing fruit, with joy, when it is no longer spring.

Virgil (70-19 B.C.) is the great Roman poet, author of The Aeneid and The Georgics. In the Divine Comedy Virgil appears as Dante’s guide through hell and purgatory.

Photo: This was a remarkable spring rainbow in the Shenandoah Valley, seen from the front porch of our home. A wild dogwood, the state tree of Virginia, is blooming in the foreground.

Originally posted at Bacon from Acorns.

Previous articleRegarding Porn
Next articleHope for Peters
John A. Cuddeback is a professor and chairman of the Philosophy Department at Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia, where he has taught since 1995. He received a Ph.D. in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America under the direction of F. Russell Hittinger. He has lectured on various topics including virtue, culture, natural law, friendship, and household. His book Friendship: The Art of Happiness was republished in 2010 as True Friendship: Where Virtue Becomes Happiness. His writings have appeared in Nova et Vetera, The Thomist, and The Review of Metaphysics, as well as in several volumes published by the American Maritain Association. Though raised in what he calls an ‘archetypical suburb,’ Columbia, Maryland, he and his wife Sofia consider themselves blessed to be raising their six children in the shadow of the Blue Ridge on the banks of the Shenandoah. At the material center of their homesteading projects are heritage breed pigs, which like the pigs of Eumaeus are fattened on acorns, yielding a bacon that too few people ever enjoy. His website dedicated to the philosophy of family and household is baconfromacorns.com.