My mother collects frogs. She has shelves loaded with frog figurines in myriad sizes and colors. Some wear strange clothing. Others sit bare in their frog skin, naked for all to see. A couple of the talented ones have frog sized musical instruments. A boy frog and a girl frog cuddle on a bench in the garden making their own music.
Some of Mom’s frogs came to her from faraway places. She knows the origin of each and remembers who added it to her collection. A soft stuffed frog sits in majesty on the couch, a prized gift from a granddaughter. A large wooden frog, a gift from another granddaughter, traveled from Africa to rule over the kitchen.
Across the dirt track from our house was a low place we called the swamp. In late winter as the snow melted and the rains fell, Little Brown’s Creek overflowed its banks and spilled into the swamp. Once its appetite was sated, the swamp released the excess and the creek journeyed downstream. The water in the swamp remained until the hottest part of summer.
Late winter in the mountains was a teaser. Days bright with sunshine invited us, “Come out and play. You don’t need a coat!” And we fell for it every time, shivering and running back for that coat. The sunshine eventually did its job against the bone chilling cold, though. The ice in the creek and the swamp grew thinner and crackled when we dared walk on it. Icicles hanging from the rock cliffs dripped during daylight hours. Could spring be on the way at last?
The surest sign of spring was the arrival of the Hallelujah Chorus. As the sun cranked up its heat, the days became pleasant. Out in the swamp the oldest and wisest of the frogs awoke and made his way out of the mud to sit at the edge of the water. He had the swamp to himself, until he ate the first bug and started croaking his joyous thanksgiving. The frog sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts, and uncles heard his song and came to join him. Soon the valley vibrated with the sounds of their family reunion. A few cold nights required a return to the warm mud but the frogs were certain spring had come to stay.
E. B. White, author of “Charlotte’s Web”, was a prolific writer. In his book, “The Essays of E. B. White”, he lists some of the major concerns people discussed in February of 1975. “Oil. Unemployment. Nuclear power plants. Pollution… The price of gas at the pump… The power of the Federal Government.” Mr. White ended that essay with a message of hope. He was waiting for the coming of the frogs.
“I know, too, that on some not too distant night, somewhere in pond or ditch or low place, a frog will awake, raise his voice in praise, and be joined by others. I will feel a whole lot better when I hear the frogs.” (Source: “Essays of E. B. White” by E. B White, Page 98)
I read another essay from a much earlier time, 586 B.C. Jeremiah described his personal loss of hope. He suffered ridicule, abuse and hardship. He was not sure his prayers were being heard and was certain God was obscuring the path. Jeremiah was trapped in a whirlpool of negative thinking. And then the rays of hope illuminated the darkness. Here is Jeremiah’s remedy …
“This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him.” Lamentations 3:21-25 NASB
Let’s open our ears to hear the message of hope this spring.