I was called outside the the other day by a small boy who came to the door in great excitement, insisting that I "come and see" what he had found. And no, he couldn't tell me what it was, I had to "come and see!" I was led through the damp yard to a patch of earth, and there, poking bravely up through the dirt, was the single bloom of a crocus. To me, the crocus is the first real sign of spring. Sure, the daffodils send up their verdant shoots earlier, but the crocus always beat them to the bloom. Peregrine, apparently, has inherited my love for this humble flower, and we made our way around the yard, finding more clumps of them here and there: purple, white, gold, and violet, each seen eagerly through our winter weary eyes.
In our crocus search I also pointed out several other varieties of bulbs to Peregrine. "See there, the thin shoots of the daffodil? And the curly wide ones are tulips. Those clumps will soon be bursting forth with spanish bluebells! And over there, those are iris!" I explained to him how the bulbs lie buried in the ground, like hidden treasure, all but forgotten for many months. And then one day, you see them pushing through the cold wet earth, willing to lie dormant no more, eager to see the sun, ready to burst forth in delicate beauty and fragrance and riots of color.
We made our way through the yard, my boy and I. We exclaimed over the signs of new life that are becoming evident everywhere we looked. I showed him the swollen buds of the blueberry and raspberry bushes, the rhododendron, the lilac, and the tiny red leaves on the rose bushes. As we found one thing after another I heard his voice ring out loud and clear in the crisp morning "Praise the Lord!"
My heart leapt within me; these signs of Spring, of new life bursting through where none could be seen before, made me want to rejoice and cry and shout "Praise the Lord" all at the same time. I am ready for Spring, not just for the flowers and birdsong and sunshine, but for Spring in my own life. The last several months have been a Winter like I've never known. We have lost two babies through miscarriage and walked through the pain and coldness of grieving. I have battled fear and despair, anger and lies, and have wondered what higher purpose can be accomplished by our going through this not once, but twice.
And there in my garden, I was reminded that in the Kingdom of heaven death comes before life. Unless a seed falls into the ground and dies, it cannot produce flower or fruit or more seeds! Through these months that have been like Winter to me I've nearly forgotten that Spring must come next; it always does. Those trials I've been allowed to walk through seem to me like seeds, like bulbs planted deep in the soil of my heart. By God's grace they will grow into something beautiful, something life giving and sweet. By God's grace we will walk in the sunshine again; we will experience not the cold rain of our tears, but the warm spring rain that calls forth life from death.
We will remember our little ones, Esther Bihana Hope and Lydia Grace, as flowers who have bloomed in God's garden, as Shining Ones who live in the radiance of the Face of Jesus. We will continue to watch here as winter gives way to Spring, as the clouds are chased away by the brilliant sunshine, as flowers bloom in defiance of the gray skies above. By God's grace our hearts will be good soil where something beautiful can grow. From the seeds of sadness buried in our hearts we look to Him alone to bring forth treasure. And, with Peregrine, may His praises be on our lips as we see what He will do.
Crocus picture from art.com.