(RNS) "April is the cruelest month," claimed T. S. Eliot, buttoday I have little appreciation for his angst.

The long winter is finally relinquishing its claim. Bulbs give riseto wondrous flowers once again, so many years after my backbreakinglabor, so many times to be reborn with the same intensity of that firstspring.

There is no more wishing for snow days or griping about missinggloves. The shovel still sits on our front porch -- out of neglect, notnecessity.

Allergies are blooming, too. Sneezes are no longer signs of illnessto come but a reminder it is time to watch for air quality and pollencounts.

I pinch my fingers in the annual rite of bringing down screens andpushing back storm windows. Every year I howl in dismay and joy as thesweet air blows in while I wrestle with glass, wood and aluminum.Sweaters and woolens get cleaned and stored. Flimsy pastels rustlein the closet now, daring me to expose my white skin to the warming sun.It is still too early for shorts and sandals but I begin to eye them inthe stores, knowing that soon I will wear only what is light and easy.No matter how old I am, I still feel the joy of spring just assurely as I did as a child, anticipating Easter baskets and new springclothes. I continue to study magnolia buds and sniff daffodils, nevertiring of their debut.

I feel young in the spring, even though another year has passed andthe bright sunlight illuminates the signs of age. I feel hopeful, eventhough I know that soon I will repeat the process in reverse, pinchingfingers as I bring down the storm windows and shiver against the icyair.

Experience has not dulled my joy. In some ways it has heightenedit. Every year I begin to dream of spring in January, long for it byFebruary. By March I am grasping at every warm day, searching for signsspring has truly come.

But April offers assurance that my hope is not in vain. Cloudsproduce rain not snow, cool mornings give way to bone-warmingafternoons.

I am glad Easter offers the spiritual lesson for nature's rebirth. Icome close to becoming a pantheist in spring as I drink in the beautyaround me. But nature will run its course and soon the daffodils willshrivel and bow their heads. I need something more.

Easter reminds me that the feelings I have every morning as I awakento birds chirping go beyond emotion. The stirrings I feel come not justfrom memory but from some deeper human longing.

I need to believe there is more to life than the temporal andpredictable. I need to be surprised that a small ugly knot can produce amiraculously beautiful bloom. I need to sense that my weary winterspirit can be revived.

I need hope, pure and simple. I need to live knowing that what Iglimpse each spring is a metaphor for the sacred drama.So for me, this month is a sign of eternal Aprils to come, areminder that my puny human faith can be fanned by a sweet fragrance andwarm breeze. I am grateful that God has once again sent gentlemessengers to dust away doubts and help revive my winter-weakenedpassion.