Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spring: A Season of Contrasts

Maybe not so much in southern climates of the USA, but in the north, spring is a time of dramatic change. The weather, changing from slushy days and left-over snow to golf cart days and opening swimming pools, is just one contrast. Temperatures can sore one day to the 70's or low 80's, and then plummet to wet and rainy and even a blustery cold snow-filled days in just a few hours. All this necessary for our Lord to usher us from the bitter winter winds to the dog days of summer.

Iris Godfrey, director of Psalm 19 Ministries, correctly points out that God's plans are not linear but cyclical. The linear view, which many subscribe to, suggests a theme of creation to finality with a bunch of stuff in between; rather, our God takes us cyclically through a helix that is ever-moving forward – like a "Slinky" that is stretched out. The earth rotates every 24 hours, morning to night and then night to morning in a cyclical way, never able to return to where it was. In the same way, the earth rotates around the sun on a slightly tipped axis so that the southern hemisphere has summer while the north freezes, and then six months later it is all reversed.

As I worked last night in the Gethsemane Prayer Garden with two volunteer friends, Bill and Cindy, the contrast was most apparent. Our goal was to clean-up the largest of the nine flower beds in preparation for the new spring growth. The Russian sage with rambling silver-colored branches were cut at ground level. Likewise, the lily, iris, daisy, cat mint, ornamental grass and other flowers were cut back so that the emerging new growth would appear. It was a time of contrasts: last year's growth had all died and needed to be removed so that the beauty of this year's new growth could begin. The flowered area, now cleaned up, looked tremendously different.

In this flower bed, a number of arborvitae had been planted that would eventually grow and become part of a visual screen that protects the garden from the parking lot. Some of the arborvitae had been protected with bird netting, the same type that is used on fruit trees to keep the birds away; and some were unprotected. Again the contrast was most apparent: what had been protected was beautiful when unwrapped, but what had been devoured by the deer had to be either cut back severely or removed. It was like a transformation right before our eyes: the bed had looked damaged and uninviting, but now it is a fresh welcome to the garden visitor.

As gardener and writer Alan Lacy states, our purpose should be to create "An Inviting Garden". There is still much to do in the garden, but last night's efforts made a significant headway as we head into a season of God's beauty beheld in His magnificent flowers and His love.

End Note: The overall theme for this series of articles is flowers and plants, showing how they point to love. Sometimes I write 'how to' do something, other times the emphasis is a status update, or the article will be about how a plant or flower touched my heart. All of these writings are based on plants from the Gethsemane Prayer Garden in Syracuse, NY. Please consider some of the other blog articles: Index of Articles About the Gethsemane Prayer Garden.