Shhh! Don’t tell the chipmunks. This last week, thanks to this unseasonably mild autumn weather we’ve been having, I knelt in the soft earth of my flowerbed and tucked fifty tulip bulbs deep into the ground.
I dreamed of spring as I carved out those six inch deep holes and dropped in the white bulbs with their papery-thin rosy-brown skins. It always seems strange, even cruel, to plant bulbs just as winter is looming with it’s long months of bitter cold. I know it’s the way it has to be, though, and I know that sure as the spring will come, these tulips will come alive and blossom in due time.
It seemed very fitting that I planted them the same month that my grandpa went home to be with the Lord and we buried his remains also in the earth. This, too, seemed like a harsh end for a beloved man who lived so long and well. Or rather, it would have if it had not been for a confidence of a different sort of spring we all cherished in our hearts as we said goodbye.
Yes, those last days of suffering,
that shadow of death,
that hole in the ground amidst a crowd of other grave stones,
the empty armchair in the house down the road—
the cruel reality of it all was harsher than any bitter winter wind that ever blew on earth.
Yet the sadness was so colored by joy, it was almost hard to tell the difference. The damp chill of a November rain hung around us, but the church rafters rang with victory, because what seemed like loss and death to us meant only triumphant new life for him in the presence of the God and Savior he had loved so long.
He had waited eagerly through all the seasons of life, finally and bravely walked through the darkest death of winter—and now, somewhere, up in heaven, it was springtime at last for Grandpa.
“We hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.” (Romans 8:25)