‘Snowdrops and Daffodils’: spring blooms and transformation.

Lilac crocuses in grass with trees behind

You’ve probably noticed that blossom is starting to make an appearance on the trees. Perhaps you have crocuses, snowdrops or daffodils emerging in your garden: signs that – after a long, cold, wet and windy winter, spring is ready to make its comeback. It’s staying lighter that bit later on an evening, and once we put the clocks forward at the end of the month, we’ll know that winter is – finally – over for another year.

Perennial plants such as spring bulbs have always slightly baffled me: what prompts them to make a reappearance at the same time, year after year? Don’t get me wrong: I’m not lying awake at night, yearning to understand ‘how do the daffodils know?’ But every time I see those first spring blooms, I wonder. I’m sure the gardeners reading this could answer that for me, and on a spiritual level, I’m certain it’s one of the mysteries of God’s creation that He ordains. Whatever the cause, one of the things I really appreciate at this time of year is that everything comes into bloom at once: if you’ve ever visited Harrogate Stray in springtime, and seen the crocuses there, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Seemingly overnight, a large stretch of blank green parkland miraculously transforms into a sea of lilac, white and yellow. It’s beautiful, and if you’ve never witnessed it, I highly recommend a visit.

Restore residents often speak of the dark times they have experienced prior to joining Restore. Whether they’ve been rough sleeping, sofa surfing, or living in temporary accommodation, the common theme remains that their circumstances were far from ideal, and they felt hopeless. The support they receive at Restore helps them to see a way forward and lights their path out of homelessness, allowing them to flourish, just like the spring bulbs returning to bloom after a long, hard winter. As one of our residents puts it in our promotional video (which you can watch here) “they just want to see me thrive.” That is so true: our desire is to see all our residents move beyond the circumstances that led to them becoming homeless and to progress from living in a Restore property to a home of their own, fully equipped to live life to the full and never be homeless again.

Symbols of new life and regeneration are particularly popular at this time of year: Easter graphics often include images of spring flowers or newborn animals. As we state on our homepage, ‘we work with people from all backgrounds, without discrimination or favour,’ and we recognise that not all of our residents – or supporters, for that matter – share our stance on issues of faith. Nevertheless, as a Christian charity, such images resonate with us, because Easter is a festival when Christians remember the death and resurrection of Jesus. Just as the bulbs are buried in the ground and then burst forth, we remember that Jesus too, was buried, only to rise again, breaking the bonds of sin and restoring the relationship between God and His people. The symbolism also extends to the change that we believe occurs in our lives when we recognise and accept the love of God on a personal level: we go from being buried in the darkness of sin to new life in Christ, and flourishing in His light.

Another thing about many of the spring bulbs is their ability to self-seed: once established in one spot, they will spread and increase in impact year after year. This, again, is a picture of what happens at Restore among our residents: they build community and support networks among one another and oftentimes continue to support and encourage each other long after their time at Restore has ended. It’s inspiring for us to see people come from a situation where they were isolated to one where they are not only supported themselves, but also engaging in supporting one another. Furthermore, we think this is a good metaphor for what happens when someone encounters God at work in their lives, and is similar to an image Jesus himself uses in the parable of the sower. He likens people who hear the word of God to seed planted in ‘good soil’:

“…the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (Matthew 13:23)

When we experience the love of God for ourselves and truly understand everything He has done for us through Jesus, then it’s natural to long to share that with other people. It is in Christ we find our hope, and sharing that hope with our residents is a crucial part of the transforming work we undertake. So, this springtime, look at the crocuses and remember: hope in Jesus can help you move from darkness to light, from winter to spring and from death to life.

Happy Easter.

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[1] Image by ADD from Pixabay

[2]https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2013&version=NIV