On his darkest day

One of our Robins in the favored nesting spot by our deck, April 2008

One of our Robins in the favored nesting spot by our deck, April 2008

You have to believe in happiness,
Or happiness never comes …
Ah, that’s the reason a bird can sing –
On his darkest day he believes in Spring. —  Douglas Malloch

I’ve done a lot of walking through snow and ice the past few days, and already there’s a part of me that is eager for spring — even though Christmas has not even come yet!

Soon it will be the winter solstice, the year’s darkest day.  I’ve always thought the calendar was neatly arranged to sneak that psychological low point in there at the most festive time of the year; by the time the holidays have passed, we can console ourselves with the knowledge that there will be a bit more sun shining each day.

If you are already harboring thoughts of springtime, today’s post is for you. Believe in happiness!  Very often, it may mean re-defining your understanding of the word, but you may come closer to the truth that way anyway.

One year ago today

Always springtime

20 Comments

  1. On belief, darkest days, happiness, and nature scenes: Over the past 400 blog entries, several have extolled beautiful scenes in nature. I once read that the most amazing effect such places have on the human psyche is this – it is not necessary to actually be in such a spot, in order to reap the benefit of calm comfort. Just KNOWING such a place exists, and being able to go there in one’s mind, brings great rewards. I suggest it is much the same with Spring. When a cloudy winter day finds you trudging through snow, you can raise your mind’s eye to the golden sun rays, filtering through fresh green leaves, and smile.

    • Exactly! This is just one way in which time and space prove to be the “very persistent illusion” that Einstein referred to. The mind and soul can be free in the most egregiously trying circumstances, as the many tributes to Nelson Mandela have reminded us. Also, I often remind myself that spring would not be so powerful if not for winter. About which, a favorite quote will show up in a blog post soon, I am sure.

      • Alfred Einstein, Howey Mandela, Frank Rogers – – we can learn a lot from the lives of all these uunforgettable men!

        • Yes, Derrick, we should never forget those who founded this great country and colonized Tatooine as well. May the force be with you!

  2. raynard

    Julia, I was always told that attending The Philadelphia Flower show is a sign that spring is just around the corner.( dont get me started about”spring training in baseball). Looking at God’s creation of flowers not just humbles you but make you more Awww of what he’s done and the blessing to man the gift he shares with others of all the talent and creativity displayed.( i Think I have 6 years worth of pictures). Tell Jeff I said hello and ask him, on the original ‘We are the World” Was Willie Nelson’s part referring to a bible reference, or was he”hanging around ‘Cheech& Chong” too long and it all went”Up in Smoke” lol I digress Be blessed

    • Hey Raynard, I didn’t even know what Willie Nelson’s line was about until I went back and listened to it. At first it sounds like something from the Bible but it’s an erroneous allusion – “as God has shown us by turning stone to bread” – the only reference close to that I know of is when Christ was tempted to do that by Satan, as proof of his own divinity, and he responded that “man does not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” SO, I can’t immediately think of anywhere in the whole Bible where God turns stone to bread (although of course it would be easy for God to do that). Even when Jesus fed 5000 people, he started with the loaves and fishes provided by a person in the crowd. Thus does God always work through people, as far as I can tell, and not through magical tricks, though divine miracles can take feeble human effort to unbelievable levels of power. Jeff is sleeping now, but I’ll ask him when he awakens. Meanwhile, my verdict: Willie’s reference was closer to Cheech and Chong, up in smoke for sure! But let’s cut Willie some slack, he probably didn’t know any better…

      • It is not extremely difficult for anyone to “know better” about what is in the Gettysburg address, or in the Sermon on the Mount, etc. How many times have you heard “cleanliness is next to godliness”, or “the Lord helps those who help themselves”? (Neither of these platitudes are found in the Bible.)

        • Blame it on Father Guido and his take on the Ten Commandments. The hilarious SNL skit is not available on You Tube (copyright violations no doubt) but you can read it here.

      • Myn favorite Guido Sarduchi routine was his interview with the guy who wanted to have a “race change operation”. Guido was translating the Italian man’s speech, and he explained in English: “He says he has always thought of himself as Japanese, trapped in an Italian body.”

        • That was a great one alright. “Ever since he was a boy, he always liked Japanese things.” What made it hilarious is that they had an actual Japanese man being interviewed, speaking in Japanese with translation by Father Guido (as far as I remember it). I wish these clips were available as a collection somewhere.

      • Rene

        I don’t think Willie wrote that song, but whoever did just didn’t have his Bible straight. I read an article a few years ago, where the writer said that Jesus drove the moneychangers from the temple “…with the jawbone of an ass,” incredibly confusing Jesus and Samson.

        • That is hilarious – I actually laughed when I read it. It sounds as if the person was trying to make a joke! Everybody knows Jesus drove the moneychangers from the temple with a sling and five smooth stones. JUST KIDDING!!!! Seriously, Samson must have been kind of like Rocky Balboa. A strong man, but definitely not the sharpest knife in the drawer!

  3. Jack

    My biggest problem as a human is my ability to see into the next chapter (or season or thought); it is the source of my greatest discontent. My biggest blessing is exactly the same thing. The other animals, I don’t believe, are afflicted or blessed in this same way. I can use this God-given ability to view what lies ahead with joy, or dangerously, with cynicism. I have too much evidence of His goodness to view the future as anything other than glorious. I hope I can remember what I’ve just written the next time my heart tells me to despair!

    • I agree! And as you say, I hope I will be able to keep that in mind when circumstances overwhelm me temporarily, as they do from time to time.

  4. Sheila

    Wow….. You were up late last night, along with Eric (or Derrick?). I just read the SNL skit and it’s too funny, especially when you can’t laugh for fear of WAKING someone! I agree that after the holidays and the resolutions, the consolation of more sunlight brightens our being. Love the little Robin! Counting the days with y’all, Sheila

    • Sheila, have you ever noticed how easy it is to get silly and laugh a lot the later it gets? I’ve never been drunk in my life, but sometimes people think I am when I get giddy with laughter late at night. And yes, it’s harder to keep from laughing when you are trying to keep quiet. My little brother and I found this out in church when we would get the giggles. Thanks for counting down with us!

  5. That is perfection in every way. I just think it’s so precious to watch new baby birds waiting for lunch. We had some bird houses in our garden at the lake that were used every spring. Is that a lilac bush Julia? We had a mauve one at the lake, but never saw any birds nesting there. I suppose because we had a cat. The quote rings oh so true for me, even when things were desperate, I insisted on having a happy future. Sometimes, I couldn’t even imagine what it would look like. Sometimes I think I insisted on it just for spite..HA, maybe that’s wrong. Of course it’s ok to have low times and breakdowns too, even happy people by nature are allowed to be sad sometimes

    I read our visit a year ago. You were heading out for a walk with Pasha, I hope memories of your walks comfort you even now.

    • Yes, I love my robins, though some see them as pests. And speaking of pests, I WISH that was a lilac bush! That’s a ligustrum, or wax-leaf privet. We inherited them. I love their heavy fragrance during blooming time, although I’m told some people find it repugnant. They are a high-maintenance shrub because they grow out of control, pretty much all year round. Here’s a quote from the U-Fla. Center for aquatic and invasive plants: “Because of Ligustrum’s ability to tolerate air pollution and other poor environmental conditions, it was regarded as a great landscape plant and planted extensively. Unfortunately, this was before its invasive characteristics were discovered.” I would like to transplant all of them to our woodland area to use as a hedge, but Jeff says they have grown too big for that. We have them all around our octagonal sun room and back deck. I have worn through too many hedge clippers keeping them pruned. High on our “to-do” list is to replace them with something more agreeable. Birds love them, though, and I will sort of miss them when they’re gone. But I won’t miss the blisters I get on my hands trying to keep them at bay.

      Lately I have been missing Pasha terribly. It’s almost like the reality of his death is only just now setting in. Plus this is our first Christmas without him. I do find comfort in all the happy memories, though. And yes, we all have low times and that’s part of life. I agree with those who have written about the “dark night of the soul” as a time of growth and renewal. But it’s also essential to be determined NOT to fall into a perpetually depressive state. That can be not only detrimental to us and everyone around us, but ultimately fatal if not kept in check. Hence my resolve to find joy in life.

      • I have heard of a Privet hedge, but I don’t think they grow here. Sounds like a big project requiring a major root disturbance to avoid saplings from coming up. We have a similar tree that grows like weeds here. It’s called a ‘Poplar’. They drop sticky bud covers all over the ground in the spring. They stick to your pets fur and feet and consequently your floors when they come in. If you get them on your car, they can take the paint off upon removal. Then they release their seeds which look like long cotton balls with seeds in them. Those fly around like snow for about a week and cover everything. Even if you chop one down in your yard, forever more, you’ll have roots that continue to grow and product saplings….they are a misery.

        The only way I got over losing our first dog Jasper, was to get Buddy. Now without a dog for 3 years, our family feels incomplete to me. I don’t know if it’ll ever go away. Gentle hugs to you Julia, it’s just a hard, hard thing. I see your resolve everyday right here, it’s inspiring to me. xoK

        • The tulip poplar (which is different from the regular poplar) is also a very fast grower, and spreads like crazy. We have a ton of them springing up in our wooded lot all the time. They are pretty though; they get big yellow flowers on them that are similar to tulips. That’s the state tree of Tennessee, where Jeff is from. When we lived in California our landlady went haywire when the neighbors behind us planted poplar trees. She said they were not allowed by the neighborhood association, for the reasons you describe. She also hated oleanders which I love but she thought they were too aggressive too.

          We hope to get another dog when life settles down a bit. As much as we miss Pasha, we couldn’t help thinking the past three weeks how worried we would have been if he had been in a kennel someplace since we don’t have anyone to take care of him. Or how awful it would have been if he passed away while Jeff was in the hospital. As hard as it was to lose him, the timing was good because he was in York County where he was happiest and where we wanted to bury him. Thanks for you kind words. Anyone who has ever loved a dog understands totally.

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