While out walking this past weekend, I couldn’t help but notice many sweet and lovely signs of spring; magnolia buds on the trees, daffodils and crocuses pushing up through flowerbeds and robins darting about. But there is another ubiquitous sign of spring where I live– lawns covered with small pockmarks. Entire areas of turf that have been rolled over by a tool called a drum-spike aerator. Just as the name suggests, it’s a large, heavy drum with spikes on it that is rolled across the soil at early spring to loosen soil which has become compacted over the winter with the weight of snow and rain. Without this process, the turf struggles to create new growth and, in some areas the grass will actually wither and die. Gardening involves so many actions which at first glance may seem destructive or harmful but, are the best thing for vibrancy and development. No wonder the Bible uses images from gardening so many times to reveal the spiritual reality of God’s tender love and care.
This Sunday we read about the conversion of Saul, also known as Paul, on the road to Damascus. It’s a dramatic, even violent, story but God knows precisely what is needed to bring about the greatest growth and development, not only for Paul but for the early church. Saul is blinded by light from heaven and falls from his horse and, after hearing a voice, encounters the risen Jesus. His traveling companions also hear a voice in the commotion, but they see no one. This was a message meant for Saul. Three days he sat without sight (a beautiful parallel to the three days Jesus lay in the tomb) and then when Ananias comes to him, after being instructed in a vision by the Lord, he prays over Saul and his sight is restored. Not only was his sight restored, but he was filled with the Holy Spirit and began proclaiming Jesus as the Son of God in the synagogues. What an amazing turnaround! God knew exactly what was needed to bring about not only a profound personal conversion of an individual soul, but God knew exactly what was needed to widen the early churches lens to bring the reality of Jesus to the whole world, not merely the Jewish people.
There is such tremendous hope in spring as elements of rebirth and renewal begin to surround us. There is such tremendous hope in resurrection as we always move– always move from the shrouds of death and entombment into the new reality of a fully converted spirit. God uses everything and excludes nothing in this forever unfolding plan of resurrection and you too, my siblings, are called, as Saul was, into hope, conversion and resurrection. May we always remain open to the movement of the Spirit in our lives and find hope in the countless ways that God tends to our souls, bringing about vibrancy and new life.