An Appointment with April
I don’t know about you but I am sick of this cold, wet, almost winterlike Spring. I was so eager to see longer days and warmer weather, that this year I even counted the days until Daylight Savings Time began. But then instead of fair weather we got this obstinate, stingy, mean-hearted, no-good Spring. And yes, I know we need the rain, but it could rain at 70 degrees and we would all feel a whole lot better. These cold rains just aggravate arthritis and make us cranky old people even crankier. I would not be surprised if it snowed on Easter. And why not? Easter falls on April Fool’s Day this year, which is the first time that has occurred since 1956. (It will happen only twice more in this century in 2029 and 2040.)
As a person who has lived in several areas of our great nation, I have observed that Spring is the least temperate of all the seasons. Which is probably why there are so many regional customs and sayings that accompany Spring. In Kentucky, they divide Spring up into little winters, which sounds like a contradiction but in all actuality, it recognizes the fluctuating temperatures that Central Illinois experiences as well. For example, there is Redbud winter. Redbud winter is the cold snap that usually hits about the time the Redbuds bloom. Redbud winter is followed by Dogwood winter and so on until you come down to Stump and Linen Breeches winters.
In Door County Wisconsin, Spring does not officially arrive until the Smelt run. By the way, Smelt are not what Door County residents think of tourists from Chicago. Smelt are small fishes that swim in huge clusters in Lake Michigan. Usually after the first warm rain of Spring, which generally coincides with Mother’s Day, Smelt swarm in the dark waters and enter the shoreline creeks to spawn …usually they run so thick that you can scoop them up in nets and fill a wash tub within a matter of minutes….which is generally followed by hours and hours of cleaning fish.
Of course, in Central Illinois the beginning of spring is not signaled solely by tree buds, fluctuating temperatures or small fish. Instead, I always know it is Spring when you see the Anhydrous Ammonia tanks come out of hibernation and begin crawling across the fields. And even if I get a little annoyed at the inconvenience of following one of those huge tractors pulling a behemoth plow, it still makes me smile because it means that the cycle of life, of planting and growth and harvest has begun once again.
The Book of Ecclesiastes states the truth as simply and as eloquently as it can be expressed, as long as the earth exists and as long as there is life upon earth, there will be seasons. Change is a part of the cycle of life.
I don’t know if you have ever spent much time reading Ecclesiastes. In many ways it is a weird little book and somewhat cynical in tone. It is grouped with the Wisdom literature of the Bible. In Ecclesiastes you will discover such pearls of wisdom such as “Dead flies will cause even a bottle of perfume to stink” which really is an insight you can’t argue with. It’s the kind of Biblical quote that’s hard to work into a sermon, but who knows, I just may someday. Here is another quote “it does no good to charm a snake after it has bitten you.” Or “If you wait for perfect conditions you will never get anything done.” Now how many times have you said that very thing and you didn’t even know you were quoting the Bible. But of all the wise teachings in the Book of Ecclesiastes my favorite are the verses that have to do with the seasons of life. For everything there is a season…
Perhaps my attraction to this scripture has something to do with the fact that in the 1960’s the Byrds set these verses to music. “For everything turn, turn turn…there is a season turn, turn, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” That might be one explanation but I prefer to think that the reason I like these verses so much have to do with the eternal truth they embrace. Everything on earth has its season, things are born, mature, grow old and die, fashions come in and out of style, there are births, and then there are weddings and then there are more births. In the midst of joy there is sorrow as well: loved ones die, others move away or we argue and our relationships become strained. We work, we play, we plant, we harvest … nothing stays the same for very long.
The good news is that there is hope in the midst of this windy, cold, dark, soggy, sorry Spring. Our comfort can be found in the word of the Lord that reminds us that just as God called forth his glorious creation out of the emptiness and void of chaos and just as God brought forth victory and eternal life from the pain and suffering and death of his Son Jesus, so God bring forth good from whatever hard thing is happening in your life as well. As Ezekiel put “even these bones can rise again”.
And so my friends, Spring will come, even though it seems rather distant some days. Before you know it, if we are lucky to live so long, we’ll be complaining about the heat. Hang in there!