Spring in Minnesota is kind of gross.
It seems that from March until May, Instagram is full of daffodils, cherry blossoms, sunshine, dewdrops, wildflowers blooming in green grass, playgrounds and soccer games, baseball fields and patio dinners.
Meanwhile, here in my beloved state of Minnesota, spring is . . . delayed. It’s cold, wet, gray.
My mudroom is laden with galoshes, raincoats, thick hats, winter boots, hoodies, puffy jackets, and mittens. We need all the things because in the span of a week (or a day) we will need combinations of all of the above. March brings a raw chill you feel in your bones; March is still winter. April brings showers, yes, but the gray, drizzly, cold kind that turns the ground, finally unearthed from snow cover, into thick, stodgy mud. April is Easter egg hunts indoors and parkas over taffeta dresses to church. May brings the hope of an even keel, and yet we can go from sixty-three degrees and rainy to ninety-two with tornadoes — in one day. It can snowstorm in May, and it can also be sunny and mild, beautiful like it was fifteen years ago on my May wedding day.
We just don’t know what the weather will bring, so we count on spring to arrive by June. June is when we join the rest of Instagram, four months too late, in sharing our wildflower and soccer game pictures. June is when we sit out on patios, dig our garden beds, and open up our pools. June is when we wash and put away the winter gear. Doing any of that before June is a wild act of defiant hope.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Minnesota. Our summers are hot and sunny, our autumns are breathtakingly beautiful and crisp, and our winters can be fun and cozy (In the winter, we like to live by the saying “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”). But even with my love for our distinct four seasons, I have to admit our springs are just kind of gross.
By June, the growing things have done the hard work of coming back to life. My hostas return, year after year, pushing up through barely unfrozen ground and old mulch and leaves left unraked from the fall. They’re such simple plants, but they truly amaze me with their persistence. I think of them wintering under snow and ice, soaking in the spring rains via the muddy ground, feeling the dry warmth of early summer, and up they come to bless us with their lush, green leaves. I don’t do a single thing to help them along, and maybe that’s why they blow me away each year.
And oh, what they teach me about returning, about faithfulness, about determination and purpose, about coming back and coming back to life.
Because it’s not linear, returning to life. The soul has to breathe, in and out, learning to trust and choose the light. It’s not a one-time happening. We have to choose coming back to life each and every day. Some of us have to choose each and every hour, minute, breath.
Jesus was — and is — in the business of bringing things back to life. Not just the actual dead people He resurrected, though those miracles are mind-blowing. He also raises us up when we feel buried, when our souls are quiet and our hearts barely beat.
The other day, I came across a quote that made my eyes well instantly. I’d read it before, underlined it in my old copy of a favorite book. But this time it made me think of my Jesus and His life-giving-ness.
After a long, cold, snowy Minnesota winter, I had my first outdoor walk a couple of weeks ago. It felt like a small way I was coming back to life, and yet it hurt. My calf muscles burned, my breath was ragged, and as I rounded the corner to home I realized that even my feet were sore. And yet, it all felt like good pain, if there is such a thing. There is pain in coming back to life, but underneath it is a quiet and indefatigable joy.
It can hurt to be resurrected. Beauty from ashes hurts because fire first burns. I would wager that both Lazarus and Jairus’ daughter were not without scars from their deaths or fear from their resurrections.
We too can harbor old pain, wounds, and fears, but Jesus breathes new life, right into our very bones. And like my doggedly persistent hostas willing themselves through the ground once more to meet the light, we too can be brought back to life.