Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: flowers

There’s a twittering in the trees

The snow is gone, lawns are starting to turn green, but the trees still appear brown and lifeless. Yet there is definitely life among the trees. From the open window we can hear are loud and continuous chorus of bird songs.

There are robins, meadowlarks, blackbirds, juncos and others that we haven’t identified. The juncos will move on soon and their place will be taken by brown thrashers, goldfinches, yellow warblers, orioles, wrens and others. My wife saw the first swallows this morning.

The ravens have moved farther north and crows have taken their place. Soon we will be seeing eagles, both golden and bald eagles nest in this area, the golden eagles are seen more often. They are awesome birds with their huge wingspread, often seeming to hang gracefully in one place, with no visible movement of their wings.

We have been seeing snow geese and Canada geese for awhile and today as we drove to the town of Outlook and back home, my wife saw swans. Soon the sandhill cranes will be back. Most of these birds nest farther north and are only spring and fall visitors around here, but many varieties of ducks nest on the sloughs and ponds around us, as well as many kinds of shore birds.

In the evenings we hear the frog chorus. Three kinds of frogs are native to this area and together they can make a lot of racket. There are also three kinds of toads and perhaps they add something to the chorus, though it gets hard to differentiate all the sounds.

When I was young, I knew where to look for the first flowers of spring. The crocus blooms before the leaves grow.  When we lived in Ontario, I knew where to find the trillium. I don’t think I’m within walking distance of crocus flowers where we now live, yet I see evidence of life bursting forth all around me. Even the trees that seem lifeless, when I look more closely I see the swelling buds.

Soon farmers and gardeners will be dropping dry and seemingly lifeless seeds into the soil and those seeds will abundant growth both below ground and above ground. We know that is going to happen, so we sow the seed and we are not disappointed. The farmer and the gardener do not make those seeds grow, they simply plant them with confidence that those seeds have life within themselves that when placed in contact with the soil they will spring up into healthy plants and produce a harvest.

We have been given another kind of seed, the Word of God that produces growth springing up unto eternal life. Are we sowing it?

All of a sudden it’s spring!

In books the scenario goes like this: the trapper / prospector / homesteader (choose one) is shut up in his isolated cabin in the north country. The snow gets deeper and deeper, the temperature gets colder and colder, the wood pile gets smaller and smaller, his winter supply of food is almost gone. The days are getting longer, but the snowstorms are more frequent, there is no hope of getting out for more supplies. Hope is almost gone when he wakes up one morning to a different sound in the treetops. There is a gentle breeze blowing from the southwest, the clouds are gone and the sun is shining brightly. The snow begins to melt and in a few days there is open ground, open water, and he is a free man once again.

That’s how it reads in story books. Real life is not like that — the sun shines one day with a promise of spring, followed by another blizzard the next day, or at least by bitterly cold temperatures and sharp winds that lash your face with ice crystals and make it difficult to find your way. Warm days alternate with cold days until the warm finally prevails and we have spring.

Except that from time to time it does happen exactly as the story books describe. We had bitterly cold temperatures last week, up to and including Thursday. Friday the sun shone, the wind came from the southwest, the temperature went above zero and the snow began to melt. This is the fourth day and bare  patches are showing up on our lawn. If this continues, as it is forecast to do, there won’t be much snow left after the coming weekend.

(Here’s a primer on the Celsius scale for those still addicted to Fahrenheit: 0° Celsius is the freezing point; -18° Celsius equals 0° Fahrenheit; each degree on the Celsius scale equals 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit. Thus today’s temperature of 5° would be 41° F and Saturdays forecast high of 15° would be 59° F.)

Whether it comes slowly or quickly, spring on the Canadian prairies is a dramatic event. The increased hours of sunshine have already boosted our energy level. Even our cats have spring fever. Soon the robins will be here, followed by Canada Geese, meadowlarks and all the birds of summer. The first native flower to bloom will be the prairie crocus, usually appearing before the snow is completely gone.

A friend asked me recently, “Why are we living here?” That is not so easy to answer during winter when the days are short, the nights long and a snowstorm just made our driveway impassible again. But spring reminds us of the life and beauty that teems all around us when winter is past, and of those long, long, glorious days of summer.

While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease (Genesis 8:22).

Meditations on spring in Saskatchewan

For months our yard looked barren. Spring came, the snow melted, yet the weather remained cool and we waited week after week for signs of a change. The grass was brown; the trees were dry sticks. Very hesitantly, signs of new life began to appear. Last week warm weather arrived in full force, temperatures as high as 31°. Now the grass and the trees are green, the strawberries are not only green, they are flowering. The mountain ash and the lilacs are loaded with flower buds and my wife has filled her outdoor flower pots with flowering plants.

An incredible transformation in just one week. Isn’t this what Jesus was meaning when He said: “Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” (Matthew 6:30)

Do we doubt His power to transform us from dull lifeless creatures into children of the most high God? Or His ability to provide for all our needs?

The birds are back, too. We saw goldfinches and orioles for the first time last Sunday. At one point yesterday afternoon there were two dozen goldfinches around our bird feeder. This morning we drove into the church yard and as soon as we stopped a yellow warbler lit on the hood of the car, hopped around a bit, then perched on the mirror on my side of the car. This little bird, weighing at best 25 grams, less than an ounce, has flown 6,000 kilometres from Central America to brighten our lives for the summer.

How is that even possible? Yet it happens year after year. Jesus tells us that His Father knows all the little birds, where they are, what they are doing. “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7)

The glories of spring are evidence of God’s care for His creation, and promises of what He wants to do for each one of His children. How much does the yellow warbler understand about all this? I have no way of knowing, all I know is that he goes south in the fall, returns to the north in spring and trusts that he will find what he needs.

Jesus’ statement that not one of the little birds is forgotten by God boggles our mind. Such knowledge is far beyond our grasp. Yet it is so hard for us to trust. We want to understand God’s plan for us, not just for today but for tomorrow, all our tomorrows. Isn’t that why Jesus said “O ye of little faith”? Why not just trust our times into His hands, do the little things that He prompts us to do right now and see where that will lead us?

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