by Mary Reitano

Photo Credit: Matilda on Tumblr

I love good similes or metaphors–they clarify and enhance ideas. Many figures of speech are derived from nature: black as night; sturdy as an oak; he has the heart of a lion; the stars are sparkling diamonds; frisky as a lamb, etc. The lamb represents new life, peace, gentleness, trust, and innocent optimism. 

Metaphors and poetry go hand in hand. Poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote in 1877 about hope emerging out of drudgery in the poem God’s Grandeur: “Generations have trod, have trod, have trod; And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil; …And for all this, nature is never spent; There lives the dearest freshness deep down things…”Freya Latona, an Australian writer encourages us by observing that Hopkins’ lines…remind us that nature’s very essence is that of rebirth. It replicates and rejuvenates itself season after season, depletion after depletion. Nature’s seasonal triumph provides not only physical beauty…but also…gentle spiritual teachings on the human capacity for renewal.” Spring religious holidays reinforce this theme, celebrating deliverance (Passover) and resurrection (Easter).

Spring is a season full of examples of renewal and positive change. Hope rises as the monotonous dark, grey, and brown winter landscape transforms—a miracle I never tire of! Bare trees bud green, yellow daffodils peek out from the soil, fuchsia azaleas pop out, and white dogwood blossoms burst forth. Sunlight and warmth boost our Vitamin D levels and brighten our mood. We are motivated to be more active, which increases our endorphins and decreases depression and anxiety. 

Entering the second year of this pandemic, we are weary of illness, loss, social unrest, and racial injustice. We are hoping to turn a new page. Some are struggling in the economic downturn, others are missing family and friends, or grieving the loss of a loved one. For them, tears have been a river flowing down their cheeks. We long for safety, peace, justice, and relief from sadness. We are awaiting spring after a long, cold winter. And hope is on the horizon in this new year. We see progress concerning the pandemic. Approved vaccines are being administered with increasing frequency, the beginning of restoring public health, social activities, and business prosperity. This will not happen overnight, but the prospect is lifting spirits. And, appropriately, spring rains are often warm, gentle, and cleansing. “Nature, like man, sometimes weeps for gladness.” (Earl of Beaconsfield). 

A recent youthful voice eloquently expressed a metaphor of hope amidst America’s struggles. Amanda Gorman, Youth Poet Laureate, captivated us as she passionately read her poem, The Hill We Climb, at the presidential inauguration. Dressed in energetic colors of sunshine yellow and bright red, she radiated energy, life, and hope. The poem began acknowledging the darkness and struggle in our nation: “When day comes we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade?” But the poem continues and ends on a hopeful note: “When day comes we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.” Ideas are wings—let’s allow these words to lift our vision and our spirits, and to renew the freshness we have deep within.

Mary Reitano is a Licensed Professional Clinical Mental Health Counselor who emphasizes positive psychology and wellness of mind, body, spirit, emotions and relationships.