It is exceptionally pretty outdoors this morning. The tree buds are yellow-green, and the morning light filtering through them is creating a dappled pattern of shadows on the grass. Birdsong, which I missed so much during the winter, is discernible over the hum of lawnmowers and construction. My dog, with his incredible knack for finding the best place to nap, has curled up in a square-shaped pool of sunlight on the floor. In other words, it is finally spring.
Like most people living in northern climates, I spend March and April eagerly waiting for this moment. The fact that spring comes every year doesn’t make it much easier to deal with the short days of January or the grey slushy snow of March. It’s still really, really hard to wait.
The harshness of winter does, however, offset the gentle brightness of spring. I don’t know what people in the south feel when their barely-chilly winter season yields to an early spring, but I can’t imagine it is what I feel right now.
A couple summers ago I had met a man who lived in Poland during both World War II and the Cold War. He was joy-filled and appreciative of the good things in life. He said that he sees suffering as a reference point, something that allows us to see what is good, because goodness is such a strong contrast to suffering.
If you’re reading this worrying that I’m about to compare my prolonged job search to living through two wars, don’t worry, I won’t. I know that the suffering of others makes my own misery look mild. But I do think that this concept of using suffering as a reference point holds true for large and small bits of suffering. Small bits of pain help us to see and appreciate goodness for what it is.
So I’m grateful for this waiting period, because I know how much happier I’ll be when I finally find a job now that I’ve waited this long.