As I look out the window into our backyard garden, my eye is immediately drawn to the groupings of brown shoots that once served as the bases for mighty sunflowers, if memory serves me right. At the moment, it is hard to tell what they once were, in all their springtime splendor, in all their summery glory. Now, they just look dead.
The worst part is that I’m pretty sure it was my fault in the first place. This autumn, when we were certain that the once-thriving plants had reached their date of expiration, we did what any gardener would. We cut off the dead shoots.
At the time, I should say, it felt liberating. I was tired of looking outside and longing to see the colors that once filled the backyard, only to be reminded that the coming months would look and feel as cold and grey as death itself. It felt good to relive the bases of their decaying stems. It felt good to make room for the springtime that would (we hoped) eventually come.
As we prepared the garden for winter, Peggy and I imagined together the return of spring and the new life that would come. And then, as these things happen, winter came. And winter, as it usually does, overstayed its welcome. There were countless days of rain and a few welcome days of unexpected snow. And the ground lay, to use an ancient term, fallow. With each passing day, our expectation of renewal met the resistance of the reality of death. Some days yielded a sustaining crop of belief; some days we found it impossible to imagine that life would again take residence in the backyard.
We found ourselves questioning our original decision. Why did we cut our garden back in the first place? We blamed ourselves. We blamed each other. Why did you cut that bush back so far? Now it will never grow again!
But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?”…What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.
Throughout this long winter, Paul’s picture of a seed dying before it can live again has taken on a quality that it never had for me before. To a culture that promises quick return on our investment, dream jobs straight out of college (or at least soon thereafter!), speedy service on everything from fast food to oil changes, the practice of waiting for a decision to pay off is perhaps the greatest challenge we can endure.
One day, perhaps I’ll become an expert at waiting. One day, I’ll publish a post that gives 5 easy, time-tested steps for waiting. One day, maybe I’ll be able to conclude this post with some advice from the other side.
But for today, as I look outside my window and see that only the slightest bit of spring has indeed sprung, I will hope in what I cannot see. I will believe in the resurrection.