As March quickly gave way to April, so April is speeding by with plenty to keep her busy. Yesterday was a perfect spring day; sunny, breezy and tranquil. Here in southern Indiana the flowering trees are in bloom, birds are making nests, and sunny jonquils, tulips and dandelions are everywhere. Baby J and I spent much of the day outdoors while I cleaned out the garden boxes, stirred the compost and cleaned up the back yard. In between these outdoor jobs I flitted inside to proof sourdough bread, bake a banana loaf, and cook dinner. This morning we awoke to a grey sky and chillier breeze, the earth fragrant with rain and new mown grass. When spring comes, the earth and its people breathe more deeply, and begin to stir.
I’m anxiously awaiting the right time to plant my vegetable garden. I have new indoor plant starts, succulents and aloe vera, in addition to my sourdough starter and kombucha scoby. Growing things. Living things.
On Sunday we went on a guided nature walk, in the rain, to see spring flowers in the forest. Rich purple wizard-cap Larkspur, the tiniest green violets, creamy, dancing “Dutchman’s breeches,” and countless others — a treasure chest of nature that would have passed unnoticed if we hadn’t gone out of our way to observe them. As the naturalist guide told the stories of the plants, I felt full of wonder at the beauty and detail of the quiet forest all around us. God gave beauty in our world that serves no purpose except to show his glory.
“The heavens declare the glory of God, the dome of the sky speaks the work of his hands. Every day it utters speech, every night it reveals knowledge. Without speech, without a word, without their voices being heard, their line goes out through all the earth.” (Psalm 19:2-4 CJB)
Each season gives us a wealth of understanding about the nature of God. The whole world boasts traces of his fingerprint, because when he spoke the world was created — his essence suspended in the universe. God’s impassioned words from the storm to Job (Job 38-41) give us a hint of this truth. Who can know all about God? Who can understand his ways? We ask “Why, God?” as we journey through difficult circumstances, but we miss the detail in the world around us that is giving small clues to the answer.
We have been a bit quieter on the blog and social media of late due to circumstances that I’m sure are familiar to all of you. Joy’s father (my grandpa), is in critical health, and she has gone to help her mother care for him. As my own baby turns seven months old and learns to crawl and pull himself up, my grandpa in the winter of his life is learning again how to sit up on his own as well. Sickness juxtaposed with spring, death standing always at the door of life.
In the spring, one aspect of God’s nature becomes most obvious — new growth shows us he is the God of life. The newness all around us, the showy array of beautiful blooms tempting pollinators with their fascinating colors, the freshness, the hope. Things are planted within us that will come to fruition later, as we reach maturity slowly and naturally over the course of time. Perhaps we are being pruned now, the deadness cut away to make room for new green shoots. We can’t compare our green nubs to someone else’s fruit-laden branch. God is doing a different work with each shrub and flower.
On Easter Sunday I called my grandpa in the hospital to play my violin for him. I played outdoors in the soft beautiful weather and as I did I thought of how amazing it is to know the power of the resurrection. Death has no hold over us. Life holds the victory for ever more. Some have taught that this means our earthly bodies will never die, but the truth I think is more beautiful — that when our earthly bodies give way, there is waiting for us a new, shining body to represent our new identity in God.
Walking in nature this past Sunday, I felt so loved by a God who would create such beauty just for us to enjoy. I invite you to take some time in nature this week, marveling at the handiwork of God, releasing your struggles and burdens to him and letting yourself rest in the treasure of his goodness.