I wish I was a poet so that I could adequately represent how I feel about fresh local strawberries and tomatoes. Strawberries have started appearing at the local farm stand just in time for Easter which I find absolutely timely. (You can see my Strawberry Shortcake recipe here). I have been thinking about the way spring always seems to explode here in South Alabama - and then when serendipitous things like the smell of strawberries greets me in the market, I can't help but feel like God is giving me a wink and a nod. I know God is quite happy with His Son's work on the cross, but He is also quite proud of the way strawberries smell. I know this because of the way He always seems to show them off.... But anyway, I want to say the whole explosion of spring is in response to the resurrection - something about how all the earth seems to respond to the promise and gift of new life. It certainly sounds good, and I think there is some Truth in it and not simply sentiment. I think it is God - the Christ life - and not necessarily the bloom itself that opens every spring and drives people to such happy and passionate gardening. Flowers are not simply beautiful. They are beautiful AND they are full of God. Not everyone sees it or takes the time to contemplate the flower to find the Truth in it all, but when you have a visceral response to the beauty of nature I am partial to say that you are experiencing a bit of that Life eternal - of heaven. In the case of spring, I think you're witnessing nature's conversation with itself - a celebration of Christ's defeat of death and the promise of Life.
I like the idea that beautiful things are messages sent right to the heart of us - messages heard by our souls and not our ears. It is the notion that when we respond to spring, or to our garden, it is with the force of our Spirit recognizing and longing for Eternal Life.
At least here in south Alabama, Lent coincides with the doldrums of winter (no one from Chicago need tell me that our doldrums have nothing on your doldrums - I am aware). But even here the leaves have been hidden too long, the fear that maybe your bathing suit is dry rotting has set in. Nature has been asleep too long. But sometime right around Easter things begin to wake up. Flowers gather their courage and finally greet the sun. The grass starts to green. The wind stops being so hostile and starts to invite us outdoors. And there is a part of me, at least this year, that wants to say that it is the Earth's worship response. Like all of creation conspires to say, "Rejoice! Life has come, death has been conquered, Life is sweet and Hope is here. Rejoice!"
Creation is not God, but it is full of Mystery, and if we open our selves to it, it will absolutely point us to it's (and our) Maker. One of my favorite thoughts ever put to paper (thank you C.S.Lewis):
"The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things - the beauty, the memory of our own past - are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistake for the things itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the things itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited."
I like the idea that beautiful things are messages sent right to the heart of us - messages heard by our souls and not our ears. It is the notion that when we respond to spring, or to our garden, it is with the force of our Spirit recognizing and longing for Eternal Life. Of course we have been talking about the Natural Revelation - a gift so that we might make all of life an act of prayer and worship to God. Anyone who has ever smelt a strawberry knows exactly what I am talking about, or at least your Spirit knows. On this last point I am certain. So enter spring with the intention to engage beauty and listen to your Spirit's conversation with nature and with God the Father. Listen not for words, but for longing. Its wonder-full.