Thursday November 27, 2014

Have faith in the promise of spring


Well into April, it snowed. Again.

I hate complaining, but I did. I may have even accused God of going to Florida for winter. I may also have repented later.

Then I acted on what I knew to be true. The calendar verified it. I shoveled the white stuff off the back deck and hauled the outdoor furniture out of storage. Set it up pretty and declared spring — or spring anyway.

The very next day, the Preacher (panting for the kind of smoky, blackened food best eaten outdoors) called a picnic. Invited the Bean family. They showed up with friends.

We kept it easy. The Preacher extracted meat from the freezer and made a fire in the fire bowl, deck center. I unearthed last summer’s leftover paper plates and cutlery. Our guests brought almost everything else. Potato chips. Cheese nobs.  Condiments. Homemade pickles, large as baby alligators, roast potatoes, and mouth-watering fruit betty.

In case you don’t know what faith looks like, that’s a snapshot in the album. Twelve people; six kids, six adults. Some wearing parkas, some, hoodies; a few sporting snowpants. Eleven winter-weary people sitting on summer chairs on a sunny deck. Eleven happy friends cooking hot dogs on sticks, scarfing down potato chips and cheese nobs like someone invented them yesterday. Eleven hope-filled neighbours exclaiming over Carla’s amazing fruit betty, Colin’s giant pickles and our longer days. Eleven and not twelve because the tiniest grandbean is too small for all those things. Besides, she doesn’t know seasons. For her, spring shows up whenever Mama picks her up.

It’s crazy faith, perhaps. Snow obliterating the lawn and piled half-way up the outside of the deck rails. And on that deck –– a picnic. To celebrate winter’s demise and welcome spring. Not because it has arrived, but because God promised it would in Genesis 8:22 “As long as the earth remains, there will be springtime and harvest…”  And God can be trusted to keep his Word. Always has, always will.

A lilac bush grows close to the deck. Some years monarchs and painted ladies and swallowtail butterflies flit over its fragrant purple clusters. But on that April day, only a hint of a nub swelled the tip of each branch.

I looked at those sticks of promise. “Who wants to bet on the first lilac to bloom? Closest guess wins a prize.”

“Mom,” said Amanda, all mock shock. “Since when did YOU become a betting woman? When I was a kid, you…”

“Oh, shush. It’s not a bet. Just make a guess.”

Kendall guessed earliest. The rest followed. I marked each guess on my calendar, ranging from late May to late June.

As I write, over a month later, the lawn lays green. Deck and deck chairs glisten with rain. Water beads line the table’s edge like a string of pearls. No blooms on the lilacs yet, but they’re coming.

Got winter? Have faith in the promise of spring. Clear the deck. And call a picnic.



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