Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
I can’t believe that it is April. Time moves so quickly, especially when you’re older. There is an old saying, “April showers bring May flowers.” It is a reminder that we must be patient, because natural beauty needs to be formed through the passing of years, changing weather patterns and especially the rain, which waters those seeds. Another adage comes to mind, found within a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and that is, “Into each life some rain must fall.” There is no doubt that some receive more than their share of a little rain. In fact, some must tolerate floods in their lives.
However, I have often been inspired by those who must face adversity (the rain that falls into their lives) – the loss of a loved one, perhaps a disease or maybe a physical limitation and change in lifestyle. They often approach life maximizing the good in their most trying times. They seem to remind people of faith, that if we blame God for our difficulties, we must also credit Him for the good that is so generously given to us.
In T.S. Eliot’s epic poem, “The Waste Land” he stated, “April is the cruelest month.” Many have debated what Eliot was implying when he wrote that line. I believe that he wrote this to demonstrate the contrast, especially emotional, that we experience in life. The rebirth and colorful experience of spring is a stark contrast to the colorless and cold winter months. Joy only magnifies the sadness in others who cannot embrace spring’s emotional uplift.
In one sense, I understand that spring brings those smells and feelings that were generated in me as a boy, as I made my way to the neighborhood baseball diamond to begin spring training. I don’t do that anymore. My body has abandoned those athletic experiences. Those days of youth are gone, and so are my spring training days. There is a loss of those carefree days, which creates a type of nostalgic sadness. Spring brings back memories of those days gone by, and its fertility exacerbates my age and lack of physical ability. But, I do have the memories.
For the believer, spring is a sign of regeneration and especially resurrection. Our life and its vitality is not lost, but will be restored. So, every spring offers us an opportunity to reinvent ourselves and approach life a little older, and perhaps a little wiser. In my own personal life, it seems that spring brings forth a blossom of the seeds of friendship, which were planted in the past and now bloom in the spring. It reminds me that all of life's experiences are waiting for a time to bloom, and often it’s the warmth of spring which brings out the best in us.
Those wonderful seeds of friendship that are planted need rich and fertile soil. So, use those spring rains generously to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the April 2, 2019 "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.