Friday, May 9, 2014


It’s a warm, bright Spring morning.

Warmth. It seemed like it would never come, like the cold gray would linger. But new life springs forth because the seasons always change. Always.

On this Spring morning I’m pushing Ella in the stroller and walking along busy Keele St. to pick up a few things from the store. I vaguely hear the words my two-year-old is singing and there’s the din of morning traffic and city busses rushing by in both directions. We’ve got guests coming for dinner and I’m mentally compiling a short list of the items I should grab.

I stop, almost impatient, because the light’s red and we can’t cross. But really, we’ve stopped because He ordains our steps and, whenever He wants, He stops us in our tracks. With nothing to do but wait, I look to the side.

Beside an ordinary, gray city sidewalk is a tree in full, shimmering light pink bloom. How can it be so easy to miss the blossoming of life?

I walk a few steps closer so that I’m underneath her beams and can breathe her fragrance. 

Smooth gray branches. Dark pink buds. Golden green leaves. Pastel pink petals. I know I must look odd standing there on a busy street corner, gazing up, breathing in, speaking to Him. Thank you for this. Thank you for stopping me. Thank you for creating this beauty for me to enjoy.  

With a gust of wind that brings a tearing, a falling of petals, I remember the words we’d heard read and preached only a few days earlier.

“All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” (1 Peter 1:24-25)

His word—living, treasured, hidden, whispered.

In early Spring, when buds first begin to bloom, it seems like the soft, delicate pinks and whites that swirl round strong branches will last long enough that we’ll feel like we get enough, like we’ll be satisfied. The beauty of today will still be here tomorrow, we reason. Tomorrow I’ll still be young. And the beauty of today is lovely enough that we anticipate feeling no sorrow when the petals collect in heaps in the gutters, for it’s still such a long, long way off.

Spring evokes something within us. Reflecting the creativity of the Creator, artists paint Spring's beauty on canvas and poets write of Spring's brevity in verse:

"Nature's first green is gold, 
Her hardest hue to hold. 
Her early leafs a flower; 
But only so an hour. 
Then leaf subsides to leaf. 
So Eden sank to grief, 
So dawn goes down to day. 
Nothing gold can stay."

~Robert Frost

In Toronto, we’re yet in the sweet stage of early Spring, where flowers resolutely cling to their tree branches. Buds have just opened and flowers are young, fresh, and strong. The petals leave only slowly, quietly, and unnoticed. Later on that will change--later on a single breath of wind could strip entire branches bare in one gust. One day we’ll be old. But for now, it’s all happening slowly.

One by one, the petals fall. 
Day by day, our lives pass. 
Quietly, slowly, at first. 
And then in strong, powerful gusts.  

But in this passing—as seasons change and flowers fall and grass withers and skin weathers—is there more we’re supposed to see?

We gaze at the beauty of life in full bloom and our minds recall the words first written by the prophet Isaiah then quoted by the disciple Peter and later spoken by us. We rightly think about the contrast between Creator and creature; we rightly remember that we’re but a moment and He is forever. 

But is there something else He wants us to remember, too?

Could it be that, as our days pass and life’s seasons' change and flowers fall and we mature from young to old, He wants us to remember, too, those words of promise that He spoke in His heart all those years ago? An enduring promise that is fulfilled even as, one by one, each petal falls: “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” (Genesis 8:22)

When the tree’s blossoming glory falls to the ground and, year by year, the vitality of our youth weakens with age, we’re not only to consider the brevity of life. There’s more! In all this passing, there’s more.

 Each petal that falls, each day of our lives that passes, each season that changes one to the next is a reminder of God's enduring promise to Noah, to all creation, and to us.

“Never again.”

Spring’s blossoms will fall. The young will grow old. But in all of it, petal by petal, day by day, season after season, the word of the Lord remains forever.