In Wisconsin this year, as with many other areas of the country, spring has come much earlier than usual, with record temperatures in the upper 70’s recorded in early to mid March. There was even a period here of seven days in March during which a new record high temperature was established each day. This early gift of warm weather has triggered an early blooming of our spirits, along with an early blooming of our trees and flowers. Daffodils and forsythia along with cranberry bushes, cherry trees, and plum trees have bloomed a full month ahead of schedule .
As wonderful as this early warmth and early blooming has been, it has been accompanied by a new anxiety. The early budding of the flowers and trees has made them especially vulnerable to being injured, or even destroyed, if temperatures were to drop below freezing. A cold front, which is not unheard of in early April in Wisconsin, could wipe out millions of dollars of farmers’ crops across the state. The unseasonably warm weather that caused the buds to develop much earlier than usual, has made them vulnerable to being hurt by a sudden change in the weather pattern.
In a few days, Christians will celebrate Easter which is of course a celebration of resurrection and new life. Jews will celebrate Passover beginning tonight, also a celebration of new life. It strikes me that there is a great lesson about resurrection and new life to be learned from the experience of the early budding of our trees and flowers here in Wisconsin. When you and I risk experiencing and living into resurrection in our lives, we are like the early buds in that we find that there is great vulnerability in the beginning stages of this new life. We are vulnerable to being hurt if the conditions change suddenly, if a cold front were to suddenly blow in to our lives.
Here are some examples of what I mean. Two people begin to fall in love, and as exciting as that feels, they also experience a new vulnerability related to the possibility of being hurt. A young person leaves home for college, work, or military service full of excitement about the budding possibilities, but at the same time worries if things will go as he/she hopes. Two people who have been estranged from one another begin to take steps toward forgiveness and reconciliation, leaving them feeling both hopeful and scared. A person who has been through a “dark night of the soul” experience of grief, depression or addiction and is just beginning to recover and now feels a combination of new life and vulnerability.
The experience of moving from bondage to freedom, from death to resurrection is always mixed with great hope and vulnerability. If we find ourselves in the early stages of new life, of new budding, we need to seek out the warmth of friends and family to sustain us. And if we know someone who is in this vulnerable place we need to surround them with plenty of warmth in order to help their budding new life continue to blossom. Families, friends, and communities of faith are at their best when they create the warm, loving conditions necessary to nurture new life.
Happy Easter and Happy Passover to all of you. May your celebrations be filled with the buds of new life, along with plenty of warmth.