I went for a run (okay, a walk/jog) this morning at my favorite little walking trail. It was cool but one of those perfectly crisp late fall mornings. As I rounded the last turn, panting because I had upped my jog just slightly, I noticed a worker pruning away all the dried dead flowers in the butterfly garden. The butterfly garden is the most beautiful place of the trail. It’s a small serene sitting area surrounded by flowers and trees that attract hundreds of butterflies in vast variety. But today, it was desolate. As the worker clipped and snapped, he formed massive piles of stems, leaves and dried petals. He carefully snipped each one until the garden was barren.
It was a somber sight, the impending winter looming in the chill of the morning air. I love this garden. It’s where I have summer picnics with my son and sunny day chats with my best friends. Yet today it was vacant and void. For a moment I had that empty feeling. The one you got as a kid on the last day of summer break; that feeling of loss that comes at the end of a season.
Then I remembered. In order for the spring to come, the winter must stake its claim. In order for new growth to occur, the pruning must take place. Plants must be pruned for a season, in order to return more healthy and vibrant. This garden will flourish again in the right season, at the right time. Yet, if not properly cared for, it would cease to thrive.
Oh but if we could remember this truth in our days of pruning! As God shapes and molds us, cuts back and snips away at the dead places within us it is painful. Yes painful but, “no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
After all, as I’ve heard it said before, the meantime is called the “mean time” for a reason. Life comes in seasons and though the winter can be long and cold and at times seem unending, the spring is coming. It is coming.
Let us look forward to the spring but remember the winter has its place for a purpose. If rooted well, a plant survives the winter, coming back stronger and heartier in the spring. My mom always said about planting Hosta, “the first year they sleep, the second year they creep, the third year they leap”. If properly cared for and rooted in good soil, given the necessary protection, these plants will grow in great abundance.
We, if rooted in good soil, will survive even the harshest winter to come forth blooming in great abundance in the spring!
Hebrews 12:11, Ecclesiastes 3:1