Called to wear shorts & rejoice in sunshine

Several days ago I took a walk by the  brook on my neighbor’s farm, relishing spring’s increasing warmth and the sound of  wind stirring up still-naked trees. Two weeks ago that wind was biting; now it is pleasant. As I walked, the cacophony of moving branches produced an ongoing rush of noise in the distance, which made everything feel active. As if the world was preparing for something. 

While I noticed all this, I also found myself staring at the inches of ice and snow packed down on the trail, melting imperceptibly but still very much there. I felt warm in the 60-degree weather, and still there laid the trademark of winter, seeming increasingly out of place. 

In that moment it struck me with great clarity: these days between spring and winter are the most “real” days of the year, as far as reality in this already-but-not-yet life is concerned. Our existence in this time between Christ’s resurrection and Revelation’s fulfillment is like standing in the first warm days of March and watching both the melting of snow and the renewing of full life. Sin and death are fading and increasingly out of place; the truth of the Gospel is blossoming; the Body of Christ is being made ready for reunion with its bridegroom. 

We’ve all just come out of a very long winter, haven’t we? This year has been a cold one, literally and metaphorically.  So much has happened since last March, so much that has exposed the fallenness of the world and the American Church. So much has revealed our lack of control over our lives. Relationally, this year has felt isolating to many due to lockdown. For anyone who lives in a place with true seasons, you know how the winter made the experience of pandemic much more difficult. By November, the very places that were safe to be with others were rendered uninviting by cold and snow and slush, causing both literal and figurative winters to interact in one long stretch of frigidity. 

If you find yourself weary of winter, consider this time of transition. It can be easy to endure these weeks with impatience, wishing away the fluctuating temperatures and still-present chances of more snow. It can be easy to fixate on the advent of post-COVID normalcy and to grow frustrated by its slow unfolding. And yet, take a moment to really attend to these tensions between snow and sunshine, winter and warmth, because this time of year — this year, especially — resounds with metaphorical insight into our present place in God’s story. 

Indeed, all of life is this time between seasons, so to speak, and the more we understand how to wait with enduring hope for Christ’s eternal spring, the more we will remember that all remaining marks of sin, death, and injustice are melting away. This progress may seem imperceptible at times, and as long as brokenness exists in the world it requires our acknowledgement, attention, and care. Yet through Christ’s death and resurrection, we can live with confidence that it will not last. Time’s trajectory is towards abundance and new life and glory, not decay.

A day after that walk, I sat out on my porch with my sister, wearing shorts and a T-shirt, feeling hot from the sun for the first time in months. Half of our backyard was still covered in multiple inches of snow and everything looked blandly dead, but we enjoyed ourselves. I was especially delighted in the irony of sunbathing next to our frozen yard; it felt like an act of defiance to winter’s lingering oppression. I like to think that such moments are acts of faith, however insignificant they might seem. After all, genuine hope in God’s promises should transform our habitation of the present; everything we do should be oriented around His coming Kingdom, even as we attend to the dissonance of transition. If our eternal spring is making its entrance, then we are called to wear shorts and rejoice in sunshine — even while winter continues to melt away.

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