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Spiritual Reflections

The Daily News

by Joyce Tompkins

Joyce Tompkins

Joyce Tompkins is the Religious Advisor to the Campus Protestant Community. Other Spiritual Reflections  are available on the Religious Advisor's page.

You can write to Joyce at

What are the big headlines today? An explosion in Baghdad? The Anglican Church rift widens over gay bishops? Politicians are talking again....and again....and again? Martin Scorsese wins an Oscar for Best Director?

I'm dying to know, really I am, and the rolled up NY Times in its blue plastic jacket beckons to me from the end of the driveway. Why does Satan always wear a blue jacket when he tempts me so early in the morning? All the important news of the day lies waiting for me there in that convenient packet. It contains a daily fix of violence, excitement, passion more likely to jolt me awake then any amount of caffeine. To make temptation even harder to resist, my dog Pepper decides to execute her morning duties right there by the end of the driveway! It would be so easy to reach over, pick up the rolled-up paper and peel back the blue plastic or even take a peek at the headlines through the transparent blue.

But before I can reach for it Pepper finishes her job and saves me from temptation. She tugs me away from the driveway toward the woods. I leave the morning headlines on the pavement, reluctantly letting go of that seductive adrenaline rush they always bring. With each step away from the newspaper, deeper into the woods, my blood pressure drops. My sleepy eyes open. My breathing slows. I begin to see the world around me.

With Pepper as my spiritual guide I enter this other world and check out the day's headlines. The big news of the day: The winter aconites are budding! They pushed this morning through the frozen snow, their small yellow balls of blossoms erupting in explosions of color across the white hillside. Another news flash: Snow drops! Their slender green stalks have the tiniest hints of white buds, white on white against the snowy hill.

We descend toward the Crum and I see that the frozen surface of the creek has melted in its middle. A rift is growing there, revealing at its center a deep flowing current that chuckles and tickles the icy banks on both sides.  Two brown leaves skitter wildly across the ice, wheel, circle one another, then leap with daring-do into the open water. They race, I cheer. Who needs the sports section?

In the holly field a cardinal is singing. I follow the song until I spot his crimson feathers against the glossy green of a holly tree. It is not one cardinal, but three, chirping in conclave in their bright red vestments. High above me a hawk wheels, turns, lets out a shrill cry. Is it hunger? Or a cry of praise for this world's frozen beauty on the cusp of spring? I look up into the sky and see that clouds have separated like ragged shreds of paper, revealing the blue beneath.

As I pace across the field with Pepper running beside me, I watch the growing blue of the sky and realize its blueness is the color of....a robin's egg?....a Swiss mountain lake?, that sky is the exact shade of the NY Times plastic rolled in my driveway, with its juicy tidbits of self-important human news. And suddenly I realize that THIS is the real news, this natural world, shining beneath its bright blue cover, with its buds and birds and melting, with its quiet busy budding beneath the soil. This is the real news, and the only news I really need to know. God is at work, quietly, patiently, turning the earth, opening the clouds, melting the ice, sprouting the seeds, coaxing the blossoms, thawing my heart. Spring will come. And there is no doubt who wins for Best Director. Thanks be to God.