Just Pussy-Footing Around

by Fr. Eddie Doherty

Fr. Eddie’s joy in the coming of spring shines forth nowhere more delightfully than in the following passage. This season of rebirth recalled to him his own rebirth into the Faith and was for him a continuing source of joy.

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Dear God, Lord of Beginnings and of Endings:

The world still wears its bridal finery, though it looks quite soiled and tattered. It hopes for a new trousseau.

March is like that, betwixt and between. It is the month an old life ended for me, the month a new life began.

Snow and ice cling tightly to the river, though the blue shows through the stream’s white shroud like a lovely rip.

It is a sad mixture of snow and ice I see at the shore. It realizes it must soon depart. (Otherwise, how could the turtles crawl onto the sand to lay their eggs? Can a turtle skate across snow and ice?)

The mixture has become quite attached to the shore during the long winter and will be all broken up when it says good-bye.

The sun is trying to sweet-talk the snow and ice into returning to the arms of the old faith, the creed of pure free water, and of returning to the arms of its holy mother, the sea. But they will have none of this syrup!

The sun doesn’t have much chance. This isn’t like Texas or Arizona, where they rent the sun by the day.

Here, we have to rent it by the hour, and we can’t always be sure it will be delivered when we want it.

Yet miracles happen in this season, even with the sun working on a part-time basis. Old cold black dead sticks produce a rash on their skins, a pox of buds that promise leaves or fruits or flowers. The fuzzy stuff in front of the house has turned into an awkward nest of fledgling crocuses.

Bands of tiny chirpy sparrows skim across the road like blasts of buckshot. They chatter away like little girls attending the bride at a country wedding. Now and then a blue jay flashes a streak of lovely lightning from some brooding elm.

Tall pines permit the crows to peek at new litters of baby cones. The moss has adopted a bright new shade of green —an obvious imitation of that selected by the pines and the cedars and the spruce, who always determine what the well-dressed evergreen will wear next season.

A slender birch is peeling off her skin, like one of your serpents. She is worried about the new skin she will wrap around her shapely limbs. Something pink or white! Something exquisite! Something birchlike, yet stunningly different from last year’s pattern!

A flock of wild geese has angled back, complaining, from high above, about accommodations, weather, forage, people, working conditions, prices, and fellow tourists from the South.

They wedged their way into an untidy mess of clouds piled helter-skelter in a frowsy cob-webbed corner of the northern sky.

There was a mist this morning, a soft, opaque, grounded cloud. It took some effort to look through it.

As the sun began to rise, everything began to shine—even the reeds, the needles of the pines, a spider’s web.

The web was perfect, each gossamer strand standing out as though it were made to be extravagantly admired. It had precision, exactitude, geometric perfection.

It hung from the bones of a shiny bush, waiting to trap some mist-drunk, unwary, beauty-seeking gnat, or some poor, weary fly who sought a resting place. Wet midges, besilvered and bepearled, entered it like tipsy sailors in a foreign port.

The sun climbed high, and the mist scurried off like a frightened ghost. Three men in a boat went noisily by, down the rib in the middle of the river. The first motorboat of the year.

It left a wake longer and whiter than a bridal train. It sparkled, suddenly, like white flame.

The sun achieved high noon. The spider web had lost its beauty and its enchantment. It was drab and dirty. The midges were dry. They had lost their luster. They had seen the spider, and they would stay for breakfast.

The wind is whispering of spring; but some of the winter slumberers are fast asleep, and others are lying lazily in their beds. The wind is only pussyfooting around, they think. It is just amusing itself.

Lord, everywhere here I see birth and rebirth. It was on a spring day I came back to you, Lord. And it was on another spring day that you came closest to me.

From I Cover God, (1962), pp. 162-164, Bruce Publishing Co., out of print