Spring, starting in March and lasting till June, is defined by Wikipedia as one of the four temperate seasons, following winter and proceeding summer. There are various technical definitions of spring, but local usage of the term varies according to local climate, cultures and customs. At the spring (or vernal) equinox, days and night are approximately twelve hours long, with day length increasing and night length decreasing as the season progresses.

Spring and “springtime” refer to the season, and also to ideas of rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal, resurrection and regrowth. In ancient Greece, the cycle of death and rebirth was linked with the agricultural seasons and the regeneration of vegetation. To an urban, twenty first-century reader the passing of the seasons bears few more consequences than a change in their wardrobe, but to a meager farmer on the ancient Greek shores the coming of the spring rain and summer harvest brought with it life to an entire civilization. The gravity of the vegetation cycle can perhaps be only fully understood by those who live off the land.

It’s usually somebody else’s life that’s been turned inside out. Somebody we hear or read about—or


see in graphic images on TV or streaming across social media standing in the floodwaters of a hurricane, the rubble of an earthquake, the ashes of a fire, or the aftermath of terrorism. We identify with their shock, heartbreak, and profound confusion about how to move forward. Their lives as they knew them have been lost, forever.

The rugs have been pulled out from under them, and they find themselves on new and unfamiliar paths, starting over.

But sometimes the roles are reversed. We’re the ones people are watching on the news or reading about. A natural disaster has befallen us or those we love. And we’re reeling, gasping for air, and grieving the unspeakable losses that happen to other people. But as the shock begins to wear off, we slowly begin to realize that it is our turn “in the soup.”

In March we had a late-winter storm, with the western half of South Dakota and Nebraska receiving several feet of snow and the eastern half of both states receiving rain and snow melt that overwhelmed our rivers and creeks. The rainwater was sent pouring over frozen ground and flood waters carried frozen sheets of ice several feet thick and longer than your average pickup truck swamping towns and farmland, cutting off access to farms, washing out roads, bridges and railways. The flooding drowned livestock, destroyed grains in storage bins, carried away vehicles, farm equipment and generational homes. On the Niobrara River, the damn in Spencer, Nebraska was breached and overcome by the rising river and sheets of ice that slammed their way through it,


destroyed this damn. The river changed its course fanning out across the flood plain, and this land may never be the same as the water’s fury and the unfathomable destruction left in her wake is still visible through the open ranges, farmsteads and any community along its shoreline. And to the north and west part of South Dakota and western Nebraska they were fighting to unbury their livestock during calving season, sheep and horses buried in snow that had reached the level of roof tops. The ranchers and farmers battled to save their lively hood and the animals they care for. We have all by now seen the countless images and read the heartbreaking stories of the losses that so many have suffered around us. And in April, just a week ago as I started writing this column for this issue of Her Voice, we received a spring blizzard once again dumping several feet of snow throughout South Dakota and several inches of snow with more rain and ice in our southeastern corner. We know there will be more rains to come on us as we have just started our spring season and the flooding will reoccur and continue to wreak havoc on an already devastated area.

“If you send out goodness from yourself, or if you share that which is happy or good within you, it will all come back to you multiplied ten thousand times. In the kingdom of love there is no competition; there is no possessiveness or control. The more love you give away, the more love you will have.”

John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

This spring many are going from feeling completely lost, broken, humiliated, and destroyed. If you’ve lived in the Midwest for any length of time, then you’re probably familiar with the concept of the “Midwestern work ethic.” It’s an unwaveringly pragmatic and dogmatic belief that hard work and perseverance rooted in quiet humility pays off in the long run. Showing self-respect and


appreciation—and accepting it from others—is a really good thing. The hardiness and resilience of people living and working here, with the strength to carry on, this is a powerful statement about who they are. The journey they make back onto solid ground after having the rug pulled out from under them is one that has defined human history. Life is life. There will be tragedies and setbacks in all of our lives. But fighting our way back into life, one breath at a time; knowing when to surrender; practicing self-care and compassion; and summoning the strength and courage to go on and keeping the faith that there will be a better day leads us out of the soup. We become the better version of ourselves, slowly beginning to turn the pages on our losses, writing new chapters of life, and making new memories. Life is a series of births and resurrections, good things and bad things, that challenge us to understand who we are. Spring is the season of hope and renewal, when we find the energy to take the necessary action that can push the tentative new beginning into full awakening. Spring reminds us that for each ending is a new beginning. For those who have been impacted the worse and for those that will be affected by the flooding that we will see more of to come in the month of May, their stories inspire us and give us hope that after the toil and hardship of this life, comes a fresh new beginning in another.

Easter was just here as we celebrated the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And just as Christ died, and rose again, so to will our communities, our neighbors and our land rise up. The evidence of life after death is all around us, should we have the eyes to see it, the courage to believe it, and the humility to understand the awesome implications for our lives on earth and beyond. Whatever your faith, I wish you many rebirths and resurrections. Rebirth and resurrection are open to all of us, it is our gift, we are the only things on the earth that can conceive it and experience it, part of the miracle of being a human being. I stand with the poet John O’ Donohue, the more love you give away, the more love you have. This is perhaps the greatest rebirth of all.