We hosted a birthday party this weekend. In retrospect, I should’ve bought Band-aids in bulk. I’m sure we hit some sort of record. Record number of kids. And record number of Band-aids. One rolled down a hill and face-planted in the road. One was near trampled by a mob of little legs “taking a lap around the house.” One tripped on a branch. An egg race. Basketball bumps. A splinter.
But scraped knees means one thing: summer is here!
Or is it?
Just over a week ago, the skies loaded our lawn with the all-too-familiar white stuff. Inches of it. Plural.
Yet Saturday we risked sun burns. It was 80 and party-goers arrived in shorts. It was glorious! Well, all except for all those scraped knees.
Spring is my favorite part of Michigan. For every six to twenty gray days, there is one unexpected, unusually warm day. A balmy 60 degrees warranting flip-flops, charcoal, after-dinner walks, and ice cream. One day makes it all worth it.
I don’t understand how, but 60 degrees smells different (and happens to be my favorite). It smells like the rubber track under 300 meters of hurdles. It smells like the dirt stuck in my softball cleats. Like the walk home from school. Like the ice cream place across from my middle school. Like sidewalk sales. Like partly-sunny with a 10% chance of rain. In reality, it probably just smells like grass finally reigning victorious over the aforementioned white stuff. But to me, that smell is the smell of pure joy.
And Saturday, it returned.
Was it here for good? One can never be too sure. In post-party clean-up mode, I began packing winter away for the season. Sweating in a tank top, I couldn’t imagine wanting snow pants, gloves and stocking caps anytime soon. Into the box they went. So let this be my public confession. When winter returns in late April or May, it’s on me. I did this. I went all in on spring.
Whether Saturday is the final word on winter or a taste of what will eventually come, it was a breath of fresh (warm) air. It was a reminder winter won’t last forever. It was a reprieve and a refuge.
And then Sunday brought rain. Just a little. Just enough. But Sunday brought more than overworked wipers and squishy soil. Sunday brought Easter. Easter brought remembrance of the Resurrection. The Resurrection brought hope.
Fancy seminarians and pastors like to talk of the Kingdom of God with the simply complicated phrase, “already, but not yet.” The Kingdom of God is here already, but it’s not yet here.
Easter is our grip on the already and our grasp for the not yet. It reminds us the power unleashed to us through a sentence traded at the cross, a nature conquered by the Resurrection, and a life transformed in the Spirit. It speaks loud the promise of the fullness of hope to come.
Little drops of spring, as we know them in the frigid North, stand alone as paradise found. Nothing can take away the beauty of that day. No rainy tomorrow or storms to come. The high temps, the calm climate, and the sunshine are every bit as real on those days as on the Fourth of July.
Those days are our already. They are a taste of summer.
But those days are a not yet, too. In Michigan, April weather dips, dives, ducks, and dodges before stabilizing. Saturday was wonderful, but it was just Saturday. It was an experience here and now; it was a promise of what’s to come.
Thankfully, Jesus isn’t four seasons. He’s never-changing and ever-coming. When his already Kingdom meets yet, there will be no “winters” yet to come.
But while we await the finish line, the eternity before us, his Kingdom is already – indeed- but yet to come, as well.
Winter prevails not. It won’t be long before summer bursts forth, shattering the ice, the gray, and the chill.
In Michigan, summer will last for a bit.
But the sort of summer on the Kingdom of God will bring? An eternal sunshine. And no Band-aids required.