“Spring’s Song,” March 17, 2020

Twenty seconds is a long time. Especially when washing your hands. I’ve noticed that lately. Maybe you’ve noticed it, too.

It might seem even longer if you were, say, in an earthquake. Or shorter, if you were running late for your own wedding. I’ve done both, and survived. It’s hard to compare them.

But time always seems to fly when we want it to slow down and crawl when we want it to hurry. Yet the clock keeps on ticking at the same speed.

Recently I flew to Wichita Falls, Texas, to speak at a fundraiser for “Hands to Hands,” an organization that funds programs in its area to help their neighbors in need.

Thankfully, there are similar programs all around the country in places where good people do their best to be good neighbors. Kindness is a mark of a caring, thriving community, a blessing to all involved, both those who give and those who receive.

It was a joy taking part in that fundraiser and meeting so many fine people. Lord, I love Texans. But with the growing concern over the coronavirus (a concern that soon spiraled) I tried to practice “social distancing” and washed my hands as often as I could for 20 seconds, or while singing “Happy Birthday” twice. (My grandson Wiley prefers to wash his hands while humming Darth Vader’s Theme.)

I flew from Monterey, Calif., to Wichita Falls, spoke the following evening and flew back the next day. It was only sixty hours, give or take, but I could almost bet I washed my hands several thousand times.

Once home, I checked my temp, showered, slept like a baby and woke the next day feeling fine, no symptoms. But I’d heard that it’s possible to become contagious with the virus before symptoms appear. Rather than take the slightest risk of passing that virus to anyone — maybe even to my grandchildren — I decided to “self-quarantine” for two weeks. Or longer, if need be.

That’s easier for me than for many of us. I work at home. My husband is retired. We’re fairly well stocked with food. And we’re fortunate to have family nearby who, if need be, could leave necessities at our door.

It’s been four days so far. No symptoms. I woke this morning to much needed rain, and sat for a while in a lovely stillness, drinking coffee and watching clouds drape like quilts over the Santa Lucia Mountains.

Every year, California’s hills transform like magic from summer’s tarnished gold to spring’s emerald green.

I wish you could see it.

Spring brings its splendor to other places, too, of course, in all sorts of spectacular ways. I’ll always remember the bloom of dogwoods and wild azaleas in the Blue Ridge Mountains of the Carolinas, where I grew up.

But I feel at home now in these hills. In springtime, when they turn green, I like to imagine they’re singing a song I call, “Halleluia! Life Persists!”

Who knows? Maybe I’m not imagining it. Maybe, wherever you are, spring sings to you, too.

My self-imposed exile is allowing me to slow down and enjoy things I usually tend to do in a rush: Phoning friends and loved ones. FaceTiming with my grandkids. And reading poetry and Psalms that feed my soul.

I’ve also been making cookies that we shouldn’t eat. They taste even better than they usually do.

Mostly, I’m content to sit and listen to the hills sing their song. Every year, just when I think spring will never come again, those hills start to hum.

Sometimes they seem to be shouting at me, as if they know I need to hear it more than ever.

Never in my life have I heard them sing as loud, and as clear, as they are singing now.

Listen. Do you hear them?

Halleluia. Life persists.

Twenty seconds is a long time. And every second is a gift.


  1. Martha Walker says

    Your columns are always special. Thank you.

  2. Thank you. Spring is always nice. And same is your column. All the best wishes !!

  3. Pure Sharon! Thanks so much.

  4. Kate Sciacca says

    Our spring suddenly became winter… snow off and on the past several days (much needed I might add) – and from the radar it appeared that your area was pounded with the wet stuff. Hope there’s no mud flows (I dare not say “mud slides” – the hubs is a geologist…).

    Funny thing about “time.” Lewis wrote that our “uncomfortable relationship “ with time is proof we are made for eternity. He said that it always moves “too slowly or too quickly…. it’s never ‘just right’ “- I think he nailed it…. as did you 🙂
    A blessed Lent and St. Patty’s Day to you and yours.

  5. Janet Mann says

    You are an amazing woman and always lift my spirits. Thank you for words and thoughts that our country needs right now. Never in my 79 years have I ever experienced something like what is going on in our world today. Keep up the good work and words.

  6. Sandra Robertson says

    I enjoy reading your column so much….but I cannot find you in the Abilene Reporter News anymore….I am sad…hope you come back….Miss your column on Sundays…always something good to read. Thank you!!!

  7. How do you know to write these special columns at just the right time?? This is certainly one of my favorites and made me feel so much better amidst all the turmoil. Stay well and your lovely family also.

  8. Barbara Ballard says

    Absolutely love this. Our Spring is about 2 weeks away, but I know the feeling of just breathing the fresh air and listening to the birds. Enjoy your Spring!

  9. Doris Hudson says

    Lovely thoughts, as always. Thanks.

  10. I LOVE this column, Sharon~~~Amen!!! Happy Spring!!!!

  11. Sue McDermott says

    I loved reading this just now… thanks Sharon.
    I’m home as well and FaceTime with my grandkids is precious. I’ve been so worried lately but thought I’d read other things than the latest scary post or “breaking news”stress can lower our immune systems so I’ll stick with reading things like you write. You’re our port in a storm!

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