I last hiked along Oregon’s Deschutes River at the end of February. Though I saw early signs of spring, it took some optimism to do so.
My hike yesterday, however, required no faithful optimism to see the season of resurrection in the midst of nature. Trees budded, many blossomed. Wildflowers and green sprouts enclosed the brown dirt upon which I journeyed. It was easy to believe in Mother Nature’s resilience and the god of resurrections in early April.
The most notable contrast between my late February hike and this week was not the flowering trees or wildflowers, however. It was the non-plant wildlife that has emerged. I saw beetles and huge-whiskered squirrels. Crows were in flight, the bumblebees and yellow jackets diligently moved from flower to flower. Elusive Western Meadowlarks rustled leaves while the lizard darted across my path evading the camera lens. The Deschutes canyon is full of life emerging from winter hibernation. New life and creatures that have returned from southern migrations abound between the canyon walls.
Like bird and beetle, people emerge from their warming enclosures in the spring. In my late February trek, I was alone on the dirt ribbons that parallel the river. This week I encountered several people walking the trail.
Though we forget when trees and foliage fade to browns and yellows, spring comes reliably in the northern hemisphere. In the frozen precipitation and the browns and pale yellows of winter our moods drive us to feel that the darkness of the present will be endless. We fumble through February and early March convinced that we are alone in our winter wandering and seclusion.
But the God of resurrections and seasons never abandons even when we distance ourself from divine love. The Divine within all and between all of creation, loves and cares as deeply and as fully in the grey days as in the midst of blossoms. Like nature and Jesus in the Christian narrative of faith, we are resurrected from times of distress, anxiety, death, and fears to a world clothed in purples, greens, oranges, and hope.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Therefore, I say to you, don’t worry about your life . . . Consider the ravens: they neither plant nor harvest, they have no silo or barn, yet God feeds them. You are worth so much more than birds! Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life? If you can’t do such a small thing, why worry about the rest? Notice how the lilies grow. They don’t wear themselves out with work, and they don’t spin cloth. But I say to you that even Solomon in all his splendor wasn’t dressed like one of these. If God dresses grass in the field so beautifully, even though it’s alive today and tomorrow it’s thrown into the furnace, how much more will God do for you, you people of weak faith! Luke 12:22a, 24-31 CEB (Read in context.)