God breaks through the desolate places.
I spent many early years in a northern mill town—a town with a heavy reputation. It's a place that made ice in winter and mud in summer, and where mosquitoes were a species of prehistoric bird. The winters were memorable only for their endlessness—long, dark, despotic seasons, where boulders sometimes split from sheer cold, and a cup of coffee poured out into the air would freeze solid before it hit the ground. Oil and spit got thick in that climate, and the ground became hard as marble. The doors and windows on houses grew a rind of frost around the inside edges that had to be chipped off daily. We would all get cabin fever and stir crazy sitting in our homes but could barely endure more than a few minutes outside. Whenever a cold front would break and the temperature would soar to a balmy five below zero or so, we'd spill out of our homes like victors after a great war, giddy and glad to be alive.
Spring seemed never to come. Many a May I watched, trembling with hope and dread, for the first hard bud to pinprick the branch. I'd scour the fields for any sign of life, even if only the hieroglyphs of birdclaw in snow. I'd time the number of minutes of daylight we gained over the day before, and the week before that.
Then one day, usually in late May or early June, spring would suddenly appear all at once. The trees frothed with leaf and blossom. The ground thickened with an embroidery of flowers. Birds whirled and swooped and sang, and colts and calves tottered or gambolled in farm yards. The back of winter finally broke, and warmth, color, and music returned—along with hope.
This is the second sermon in a series on the seasons of the heart. The first sermon was about winter. What I said about the ...
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Mark Buchanan is an Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology at the Ambrose Seminary in Calgary, Alberta, and the author of numerous books including Your Church is too Safe.