I donned my water-proof boots and headed back up to the woods yesterday. The tall grasses of last summer slumped over in wadded tangles of faded brown. Between the puddles patches of green moss, kinnikinnik, Oregon grapes and half a dozen mosses and lichens proudly prove that they endured yet another winter, remaining faithfully green underneath a thick blanket of snow.
March and April mean the time spring blossoms in many parts of the world. March and April, in most of southern Canada, and especially here in the shadow of the Rockies, is when the snow may or may not start to melt and when the detritus of winter is no longer covered with pristine blankets of glowing white snow. A lot of garbage and dead plant life from last summer clutters the landscape and piles of accumulated snow morph into piles of dirty sludge. It’s not very pretty. If the temperature rises suddenly and the snow withdraws quickly droppings from pets and farm animals may thaw on the same day and the winds of early spring are not such a sweet thing, believe me. The deer left plenty of unpleasant evidence behind that they chose our front garden as their bed this winter.
Spring is a welcome season of stirring hope, but for people like loggers, who work outside, break-up means going home and waiting for the ground to dry until they can work again. In the tourism trade it’s called the shoulder season -too wet (or too dangerous due to avalanche hazard) to hike, too warm to ice fish or outdoor skate or to ski the lower hills, too cold to boat or swim. Out of season. It’s a good time to tend to tools that need repair.
Paul wrote to his young protegé, Timothy, that making disciples of Jesus is ongoing. True there are seasons when many new believers are born into the family of God and seasons when the Church experiences rapid growth in maturity, but there are also seasons when growth is hidden. Sometimes it looks like nothing is happening, but when the cold and dark season gives up its hold the warming light reveals that which has endured. The mosses and lichens have been busy breaking down dead trees and hard rocks to prepare the soil for another season of growth. Seeds that have lain dormant will soon take root and shoot up.
You know, we never know what is going on in the hearts of people who appear to be cold and hard. We are just called to love faithfully -in season and out of season.
I urge you, Timothy, as we live in the sight of God and of Christ Jesus (whose coming in power will judge the living and the dead), to preach the Word of God. Never lose your sense of urgency, in season or out of season. Prove, correct, and encourage, using the utmost patience in your teaching. (2 Timothy 4:1,2 Phillips)