Friday, March 23, 2012

The Promise of Spring

Matthew 13:31-32
31 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”

He sat silently on the pew bench, half listening to the eulogy, half replaying scenes of his father.  This gentle man had 'slipped the bonds of earth' a few days ago after having languished in a long battle with cancer.  This gentle man -- a veteran of three wars: World War II, Korea, and then Vietnam.  He was a man that had served his country for many years -- honorably, faithfully, devotedly.  

Paul's father Frank had taught and modelled these beliefs and behaviors throughout his entire life, bring encouragement and inspiration to his family ... unto the second and third generations.  Frank remained ever active, not only working beyond the normal age of retirement, but being an active member in numerous church and community organizations: The Lions Club, the local VFW post, the Red Cross, Meals On Wheels, the town council, food pantries ... numerous groups, numerous people impacted by his leadership and service.

As his mind wandered back to the eulogy, Paul lifted his face a bit and raised his eyes toward the window.  The church was an old-fashioned one that had clear window panes -- very simple, elegantly beautiful.  Outside Paul could see the trees gently moving their branches in the springtime wind.  His attention was drawn away from the eulogy to the beauty of the trees.  Against the backdrop of some evergreens, some trees were just starting to bud in the surprising warmth of the early spring.  Some trees were in full red bud regalia.  Others were covered in lovely white or light pink blossoms.  Some trees had hints of green, evidence of the coming green blow-out.  Yet, a few were still completely naked -- no evidence of life yet.

The contrast of the trees' differing stages of spring were intriguing.  For Paul, his father Frank, who was a faithful Christian, was like the evergreens that were always alive and vibrant, never dormant in spite of the world's happenings.  Paul knew other people who were in full bloom in their faith lives.  Their lives were beautiful, natural displays of life in Christ.

And he was acquainted with a few whose lives were "bare branches."  Paul included himself in this group, having been in an ongoing struggle with Faith and the Church for many years.  He yearned to have the faith of his father, but just could not seem to ever "bloom." 

"I can still always hope ... maybe I'm like the other trees whose branches are still bare.  Maybe my time is yet to come.  My father planted me with good roots in fertile soil.  Maybe my time is, indeed, yet to come.  Lord, let it be so!"

"Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection, not in books alone but in every leaf in spring-time."  -- Martin Luther

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