While most of us are welcoming familiar signs of spring, many of our youth are stuck in the muck of winter.

I wonder what are the words or what is the ritual that for you indicates the winter is over and spring has arrived?

That the season of darkness and fallowness is passed and the season of new light and new life has arrived?

For me, there are two phrases that indicate the transition in the seasons and the arrival of spring:
“Play ball!” lets me know that the baseball season has begun. This is my cultural marker.
And from my religious tradition of Christianity, “Alleluia, He is Risen!” is the festal shout of Easter, the day Christians celebrate Jesus’s resurrection. Easter is the recognition that out of the tomb – representing death, lifelessness, fallowness, winter – emerges new life, resurrected life, new beginnings, spring.

This transition from winter to spring was physically evident in New England and Old England where I have spent much of my life. There the transition was easy to experience because the seasons were so pronounced. The woods and fields provided incontrovertible evidence that nature was in the tomb during the short days of winter. The fields lay fallow, the trees barren, all rather lifeless and colorless.

It was only last week that I heard the voice of the nightingale which spoke to me both “Play ball!” and “Alleluia, He is Risen!” a shout that invited me to shake off the introspection and fallowness of winter and open up to the light and hope of new beginnings.

As I stepped into the gentle warmth of the spring I was reminded, however, that not everyone gets to escape the winter with ease.

We were presented with a referral for a youth who had been placed with a caregiver and now they were being forced out of housing and both were going to end up in the shelter system. Another tomb. Another death. A continued winter. Another system to address another system to address the first system.

Then we received news that another of our youth was blown into a dark place by the strong winds from the north, forced back into an icy place where there is little life and hope can seem very distant, deep under the layers of frozen ice.

Our youth can be so stuck in the muck of winter that spring can be a concept that seems so foreign.

Each of us has a voice that is the siren of hope. Each of us serves as a harbinger of new light, of new possibility, of new hope, of spring. However, we as a team or as an individual can shout, “Play ball!,” or “Alleluia, he is Risen!” or whatever your marker of spring might be.

You all provide the phrase that melts ice. You give these beautiful children something to hope for. You lift their eyes to the horizon, allowing them to see a longer day, to feel a warmer breeze, to grab hold of a branch that has the new buds of spring.

You are the gift.

Play ball.

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