It’s been a long, hard winter. We’ve hunkered down and worn our masks to survive COVID-19. Like the disease, winter has resisted letting go its grip.
Two months ago, Texas was plunged into the harshest winter on record. Two weeks ago, snow swept across the nation’s midsection from Colorado to New England. And a week ago, the Rockies and the Astros played baseball in a snowstorm. Nevertheless, winter is waning. The trees are beginning to bud. The daffodils are blooming.
As we’ve done from time immemorial, farmers are plowing the soil and sowing their seed while the rest of us dig in the dirt and plant our gardens. We know that spring will come, and summer will follow.
There’s something about digging in the earth, sowing seed and burying plants in the freshly turned soil. It’s an act of faith, of hope and expectation. It’s an ancient ritual of believing. It’s a way of interacting with life’s mysterious miracle. I wrote a poem about the experience.
I have bedded them,
laid them down to sleep,
dug shallow graves
and buried them
beneath soft soil,
dark, moist, rich dirt,
gently padded and patted.
They have been accepted
by the earth,
their burial signified by stick-markers
on which are written their names,
not in remembrance but in expectation,
waiting for them to wake,
to spring from dormant death into full flower:
pink and red and lavender,
yellow and white
the funeral-ritual of spring.
Gardens are like cemeteries, the name markers signifying the faith and hope with which the bodies of those who’ve gone on before were laid to rest. What’s buried appears to be dead and lifeless. But the dead in Christ will rise again.
Paul had this image in mind when he wrote, “When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. ... So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
“I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. ... When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ ... thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:37-54).
Winter has passed. Spring and summer and life will prevail.