Mar 22

Spring is here… or is it?

Did you know that the official start of spring on the calendar was March 20th? We are officially past winter and into spring. Isn’t it great?

I imagine you are shaking your head back and forth in disagreement. Perhaps it doesn’t feel like spring just yet? A Montana spring teases and taunts us, daring us to put our seeds in the garden on the off chance that THIS year we won’t get our last hard frost in May. It is understandable, then if our enthusiasm for these first few days of spring are tempered, at best.

However, I submit that there is a significance in it being spring, even if it doesn’t feel like it. There are things going on all around us behind the scenes that prepare the way for a glorious spring, even if they are practically imperceptible. These first weeks of spring in Montana are like the chrysalis of spring—a time of transition from winter weather to the sun, flowers, and bright days ahead.

A chrysalis shelters the earth-bound caterpillar as it changes into a beautiful butterfly. Gone are the restraints of the former existence, and the colorful butterfly soars into the air. Whatever drudgery came with being a lowly caterpillar is forgotten in the glory of a new life borne about on the warm breeze and fantastic fluttering of wings—WINGS of all things!

That chrysalis time, though, can feel so long that the cocoon of transformation seems more like a tomb of death. Transitions in life often feel this way. That time between caterpillar and butterfly looks like early spring in Montana… dead and relatively lifeless.

ButterflyHave you ever felt the pain of a seemingly imperceptible transition in your life? Caught between what was left behind and what will happen next, you find yourself wondering, “What’s going on? Where has God gone?” Fear of the unknown future looms large and anxiety presses in. This is especially true for the parent of a child that struggles to overcome a difficult past in hope of a better future.

As the parent of a child recovering from the effects of early childhood trauma, I know the pain that those who care for these hurting children experience. You cannot shorten either the pain of their winter experience nor rush their chrysalis transition. Instead, you endeavor to remain hopeful, patient, and watching for those first signs of a coming spring when the transformation will be complete. It’s a heavy burden and an arduous task—for the child, for the parent, and for the amazing staff at Intermountain who help enable the healing that eventually comes.

Jesus spent some time in his own chrysalis. He knew his death, burial, and resurrection were going to be hard for his followers to understand. He knew that when he went into that transition from his earthly body to his resurrected body, most would look to the tomb and think death had won. Like the early days of spring in Montana, finding signs of hope would take a careful eye and a trust in the power of God.

In the Gospel of John, the 12th Chapter, the apostle captures a conversation between Jesus and his followers. It was at a time when Jesus was planting seeds of understanding for what was yet to come. These seeds would only flower into complete understanding after Easter morning. Jesus told them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12: 23-24)

CaveBy dying Jesus was going to defeat death! He tried to explain it ahead of time… He called it his glory. Jesus was going to be glorified just like the glory and purpose of a seed is to die, be buried in the soil, and then reemerge in the spring as a beautiful and fruitful plant!

Like caterpillar to butterfly, the transition from winter to spring is a natural example of this same spiritual truth. There is new life that comes to us because Jesus died, was buried and rose on the third day. As we await with anticipation the glory of Easter morning, let us also marvel at the slow and hidden signs of spring that are moving forth all around us, ready to burst into the fullness of spring in days ahead.

© Chaplain Chris Haughee, 2015