After ten years in the balmy Gulf South, moving back to central Minnesota was a big transition for our family. Our first winter back lasted from October well into April, with snow flurries rather than lilies decorating the Easter Sunday landscape white. More than just the cold, it was the long winter of being indoors, not seeing as many people out and about, a long stretch of hunkering down that was a tough adjustment. In early May, with warmer temperatures came an amazing sight: people! It was a joy to return to the park, to the outdoor market, even just to being outdoors and seeing neighbors passing. The joy of life in community returns palpably with the spring in the Upper Midwest.
Today’s readings bring to mind this coming to life, this sense of freedom and flourishing, especially after a period of darkness and confinement: Come out! . . . Show yourselves! God has promised to restore our landscape—whether the natural world that year after year comes to life in the spring, or our inner landscape of the spirit that may be dormant, parched, or afflicted in the wake of a disaster.
God’s Word and Spirit restore and give life, as they have done since the beginning of creation. And the beauty of this restoration is that it calls us out of ourselves, into community. When God calls us tenderly to come out, we will find ourselves with others, and there is much joy in that.