I am driving down a winding back road, nearly home. The road twists and turns, cutting its way through the woods, and as always I look at the trees. For months they have been mostly brown and bare, their empty branches lonesome against the backdrop of the sky, the space between them revealing rocks and hills.
But today, I round a curve, and as my eyes take in the view, I notice a change.
Little bursts of color-- yellow, fuchsia, green, lavender, and white-- are beginning to appear throughout the branches. The buds are barely there, and many trees are still bare, but still there is the promise.
A promise of spring.
A promise of new life.
A promise of hope.
I had grown so accustomed to the emptiness over time that the change almost comes as a surprise.
The changes of the seasons are quite spiritual to me; they are profound reminders of the natural progression of life. And today, the colorful buds throughout the woods speak to me, reminding me that even when things appear barren, empty, or dead-- there is still, somewhere, hope and new life. The still-empty branches suddenly take on new meaning; they too will soon be bursting with color. It is so easy to become accustomed to that which is empty, rather than seeing the great potential for life that exists within.
So my encouragement to myself, and to those who might be reading, is simply this: do not give up hope. Even in the emptiest of circumstances, there is a promise of hope and new life. Look for the promise, even when it is hard to see. It's there.