Yesterday evening, the boys and I pulled up to Evan’s institute to pick him up. We parked as we often do beneath the shade of a green tree. Bradford pear trees, we’ve been told. The line of them is like a hedge in front of the building.
Ian loves picking Evan up from work because the institute is across the street from a hospital; emergency vehicles are plentiful. But on this particular day, it wasn’t an ambulance that caught Ian’s attention.
He gazed out the window and asked, “Where did the flowers go, Mama?”
Just a few days before, those pear trees had been covered in beautiful white blooms. But Ian was right–the flowers were gone.
Last spring, I didn’t realize how quickly the blooms on so many trees fall away. I also don’t remember the tulips being such bright and vibrant hues, and I don’t remember whether our backyard had so many purple flowers growing. (Truly, they are weeds…but they are pretty weeds.) I don’t remember the little leaves on the red maple trees ever being so small. Did you know that when the snow melts away, the grass beneath is already green? This year, so much about this season seems brand new.
Last year, I had not yet experienced winter.
Today, there is evidence of decay: a hole in the shoulder of my favorite cardigan, a paper cut on my finger that I keep aggravating, leftovers in the fridge that sat for too long and need to be discarded. Those tiny white flowers, fallen away. So much in the world around me seems hopeless: wildfires are blazing, refugees are wandering, families are waiting to find each other (to say nothing of politics).
But I look out the window. I look across the street to my neighbor’s house, painted the most beautiful deep navy blue. And in the fading light of the evening sky, against that inky color, the green grass almost seems to glow.
Where did the flowers go? My answer was wholly unsatisfactory; my limited understanding of botany was hardly enough to quell his thirsty toddler curiosity. How can I adequately explain that the tree will keep changing all year long because in every season, a new thing is happening?
Even while the ground was frozen, daffodils and tulips waited just below the surface to spring forth. In every season, there is life and death, give and take, falling away and going forth.
Even when we stand ready–like Mary heading to the tomb–the resurrection can take us by surprise.
I have seen the miracle and I will testify. The frozen ground and the bare tree boughs are long gone. They have left the dark night of winter and are stepping into the light of life once more, blooming and verdant.
I have seen the very earth spring back to life, beneath my feet and above my head. And do I not believe that my very Jesus was dead in a tomb and descended to the deepest depths, but as spring had foreshadowed for all of history, regathered out of enduring Might? Do I not believe the very stone was rolled away?