My beloved spoke, and said to me: “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.” — Song of Songs 2:10-12
There is a famous Christmas song called “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” In it, a certain person called “True Love” sends two turtledoves to his beloved on the second day of Christmas. This song makes me think of the Song of Songs and its reference to turtledoves and true loves.
In chapter two of the Song of Songs, the Shulamite sees her Beloved (her True Love!) leaping upon the mountains and the hills like a stag. He peers through the windows and says to her: “Rise up…and come away. For lo the winter is past…the flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grapes give a good smell… .”
These words are words of hope for people who have had “winters” or “hard rain”— the difficult seasons or challenges in life. For some folks this year, there may have been more tears than smiles. Yet with the approach of Christmas and the New Year, we are faced with an opportunity to evaluate our circumstances. For truly, we must ask ourselves: Is every winter or difficult season a reason to be miserable?
No matter what challenges we may have gone through, there is the voice of our True Love, our Bridegroom Jesus, echoing in the land. Do we hear Him singing? Do we hear hope in His voice as He says, “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away…”?
Jesus sees our future. He sees the new beginnings and the joy. He sees the blossoming; our bearing of fruit. And He is there— with us— ushering this. He beckons us to move as He moves. “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away… .” His voice is one with love and longing— much like the turtledove heralding the spring.
The symbol of the turtledove is beautiful. This type of bird is faithful to its mate; hence its use in weddings. They stand for covenant and purity, much like how our True Love Jesus is in covenant with us. He loves us with an everlasting, pure, and beautiful love that does not break even when we make mistakes. He is faithful even in our faithlessness (see 2 Tim. 2:13).
Because of Jesus, there is always hope. We see this in Scripture. We also see the use of doves emphasizing hope in different parts of Scripture. For example, when Noah was looking for dry land after the deluge wiped out everyone except those inside the Ark, he released a dove out the window. The dove brought hope in the form of an olive branch. And then there was the baptism of Jesus, where the Holy Spirit descended upon Him like a dove. Wasn’t the public presentation of Jesus at the Jordan River such a huge hope for mankind? Jesus was Immanuel, God with us; the Savior of the world.
Whatever our circumstances are, there is always hope. There is always our Bridegroom Jesus, leaping toward us, heralding new things. Do we hear our True Love’s voice? It is time to rise up and come away with Him!
Janina Marie Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine, a teacher of world literature, and a student of the Bible. She enjoys reflecting on life’s curve balls and plateaus. She resides in the Philippines, the country known for people who smile a lot.