Spring is in the air! I feel it in my bones and in my spirits. My bones are less achy and my spirits feel lighter. I see and hear and smell and feel the signs of Spring everywhere: Birds chirping in the bushes outside my shower room, melting snow dripping off my porch roof, the smell of skunk in the air (It is February after all and no flowers yet, but the smell of skunk is one of the first smells that tell me Spring is on the way), the brilliance of the sun’s rays reflecting off the snow and warming my face, and Spring Training is in full swing (no pun intended) with pre-season baseball games being televised daily. I am getting excited for the new baseball season which is fast approaching. It’s fun to see Don and Jerry back calling the RED SOX games on NESN. They are the most entertaining baseball announcer/color analyst combo in baseball, in my humble opinion. When I watch other baseball games, the announcer/analyst team almost lull me to sleep. This Spring, I will have the added enjoyment of watching two weeks of the World Baseball Classic on the MLB Network, starting March 1st.
Anyway, back to the signs of Spring: This morning, February 26, 2013, a male and female cardinal were outside my living room picture window, partaking of the bird seed in the make-shift feeder which once was a bird bath. This was such a blessing from the Lord to me. Cardinals are so beautiful (the birds, not the baseball team). Their red color is almost luminescent against the pure white snow. The cardinals reminded me of how much my mom enjoyed watching the birds (and “Ed” the chipmunk) eat from the bird feeder. (I have not seen robins yet, but some of my friends have.)
During another February, in 2010, about a month after my mom’s passing, a strong winter storm blew through our area. The aftermath resulted in fallen and broken trees spewed all over yards, streets, and even on top of cars and houses. When the storm was over, I looked out my living room picture window and discovered my mom’s favorite tree was literally torn in two. Half of it was gone, dispersed all over the front yard. Amazingly, my sister’s little RED sports car, parked in back of the tree, did not get hit.
The Chinese cherry tree looked exactly how I felt at that time. Half of me was gone, because my dear mother was gone. I could say that I was her favorite; that is, her favorite “firstborn” child. She did everything for me. She took me to physical therapy. She made sure I received an education. She made my favorite meals. She was happy when I was happy. She knew I could do anything I wanted to do; just like the other kids, only better. She believed in me. Now that she was gone, I was no anyone’s “favorite” anymore. That’s how I felt anyway, as a single adult.
When my mom’s eyesight was still good enough to see, she loved looking at that tree in the middle of our yard. She especially enjoyed Springtime when the tree would explode in radiant pink blossoms. I wondered if there would be the same “explosion” that Spring, with only half a tree left. I also wondered about having a robin’s nest again. Every Spring, robins would build a nest in my mom’s favorite tree. Would it have enough protective covering for the robins to deem the tree nest worthy?
During the months of March, April, and May, I kept an eye on that tree. Not much was happening in March. I still wondered what would happen to the half tree in my front yard. April came and I thought I saw little “rumblings” on the branches that were spared from the storm. A few weeks later, it happened; almost overnight. KABAM and KAPOWIE! The great explosion of SPRING COLOR came to life on the remaing branches of what before looked like a very sorry-looking tree! One question answered, one more to go. Will there be a robin’s nest?
It was very hard to see between the brilliant pink blossoms and bright young green leaves but, every now and then I saw robins flying in and out the now beautiful Chinese cherry tree. When the blossoms had blown away and there were only leaves for my farsightedness to contend with, I did see a robin carrying twigs, pieces of plastic bag, twine, and other “nest-building” material into the tree. On May 7th, my nephew Noel and I ventured over to the tree to get a closer look. Under it’s half-canopy, we looked up and saw the miracle of life beginning again. There it was…A ROBIN’S NEST!
My mom would not give up on that little tree. When she learned that her son-in-law was thinking of cutting it down, she talked him out of it. Because my mom did not give up on that “broken” little tree, I did not want to give up on it either. It was an example of how my mom did not give up on me. Her firstborn, who came into her world when she was an unexperienced mother, came into it “broken“ with cerebral palsy. Instead of “putting me away,“ as some advised her to do, she dedicated her life to love me and help me blossom and grow and be full of life. That is what a mother’s sacrificial love is all about.
The beautiful tree in my front yard reminded me of my mom, the many things she has done for me and the many cherished memories she has given me. What comforts me the most is knowing that Jesus has taken my mom Home to spend eternity with Him, enjoying the beauty of Spring and the eternal life He freely gives to all who believe in His Name. My mom is now basking in the radiant love of the Son.
In October of 2011, there was another terrible snow storm. Because the trees still had their leaves, many trees around the area were destroyed, power lines were down, and houses, cars and other property were damaged. This time, the Chinese Cherry tree did not make it and only a stump remains. BUT, that did not stop the robins from making their Spring home in my yard. I had thought that without the tree in the middle of the yard and only a small Chinese Willow tree in the corner of the yard, near a busy street, it would be the end of having a robin’s nest in my yard each Spring, or so I thought. This October, 2013, after all the leaves had fallen off the trees, my sister and I spotted a nest resting on one of the corners where branches intersect, in the Willow tree. So, that’s why we saw the robins in our yard! We thought they were confused about the tree that was gone. Instead, they were busy building a nest inside the leafy branches of the little willow tree. Who would have thunk it?!
“Because of the LORD’S great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are NEW every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my portion; therefore, I will wait for Him” (Lamentations 3:22-24 [N.I.V.]).
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a NEW thing! Now it SPRINGS up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:18-19 [N.I.V.]).
“As a mother comforts her child, so will I [God] comfort you…” (Isaiah 66:13a).
“For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes in Him [Jesus] will not be disappointed’” (Romans 10:11 [N.A.S.V.]).
“However, as it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him’” (I Corinthians 2:9 [N.I.V.]) .
“Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He Who was seated on the throne [Jesus] said, ‘I am making all things NEW!’” (Revelation 21:3b-5a [N.I.V.]).
The anticipation of the arrival of Spring is an exciting time. No matter how cold and snowy the Winter is, we can always count on Spring coming again. Likewise, no matter how heavy our burdens are in this life, we can always count on Jesus to carry us through the storms of life and bring us comfort, strength, and grace, for He is always faithful! He will always give us the encouragement we need through family, friends, and the signs of nature which remind us of His great love for us. God demonstrates His love for us through a visit from two cardinals at breakfast time, a robin’s nest where one least expects to find one, a loving mother who dedicates her life to care for her children, and, most of all, the sacrifice of His one and only Son to pay for the sins of the world (my sin). During this time of Lent, when Christians meditate on Christ and all that He has done for us, through His sacrificial deathdeath on the cross,and all He continues to do for us, through the power of His resurrection, let us also remenber another act of love He will do for us. Just as Spring comes after Winter, we can also count on Jesus coming again and making all things NEW!
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 [N.I.V.])
“After His suffering, He [Jesus] showed Himself to these men and gave many confincing proofs that He was ALIVE…He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority…After He said this, He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid Him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as He was going, when suddenly two men dresed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven'” (Acts 1:3a, 7, 10-11 [N.I.V.])
“Then the angel showed me [john] a river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb [Jesus] down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the TREE OF LIFE, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servants will serve Him. They will see His Face, and His Name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 22:1-5 [N.I.V.]).
“Now to Him Who is able to do immeasurably more that all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21 [N.I.V.]).
HAPPY (ALMOST) SPRING!