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Signs of the Season

 

Ah, spring! That season when, as the American writer e.e. cummings put it, “the earth laughs in flowers.” Here in the Lone Star State, there are two seasons that I cherish: autumn, because it finally brings cool weather after the hellish heat of a Texas summer and spring, which summons green growth following a brown, sterile winter. It’s the season when I can get out in the sun and work the garden under dreamy blue skies.

Scripture is replete with seasonal metaphors. Moses described the Word of God on his lips as “droplets on the fresh grass” and “showers upon new growth” (Deut 32:2 NASB, NET). The Psalmist compared the righteous to trees planted by a river, bearing fruit in season (Ps 1:3). The Lord Jesus gave His followers a “heads-up” to the imminence of His return by telling a nature parable:

 “…Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near” (Lk 21:29-31 NIV).

How well do I resonate with the seasons–and the lessons they can impart. My father was a country boy and Texas Aggie, so he had the soil in his blood. Every summer, his rosebushes dressed up in riotous reds and pinks, the garden burst with squash and tomatoes, and our one-acre orchard, like a sophisticated socialite, offered a blend of intoxicating fragrances to breathe in. I didn’t know it at the time, but the flowers and trees and seasons were teaching me something about God.

On October 7, 1994, a fatal heart attack struck down my father. Poetically, there were a couple of rotten tomatoes in his hands as we was making his way to the compost pile. It was a bleak winter of the soul for our family that year; Christmas was a test of endurance rather than a celebration of new life.

My father and a young gardening protégé

The next year, just before spring, I was working my flower garden when I noticed a finger of green under the shadow of a canna leaf. Scooping up the brown, husky shell, I knew I had a pecan sapling in my hands.
 
I was nearing 40 at the time, the age when you realize that life isn’t a bowl of cherries. It’s more like a Passover meal: sustenance with a few bitter herbs thrown in. At 40, the sobering realization of your mortality begins to sink in.

So you start taking note of resurrection signs. You look for tokens of hope that break into our changing world from somewhere just beyond our reach. And sometimes, as you’re busy with the most routine tasks, those resurrection symbols can take you by surprise.

Simple tasks–like cleaning a flower bed.

 

“Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.”

~Martin Luther~

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