Spring Questions - Exercise Your Observer

Spring's annual resurrection has come to the Ozarks, and as is her way, she's sprinkled her pixie dust over the dry bones of winter. The red buds have woken; she's uncorked the sweet and sour perfume of the Bradford Pear trees. She's called the songbirds back from Mexico, or Texas, or wherever. She's cleaned up the boughs, prepared a place for them. Each morning I hear the cardinals and robins singing as if every tree were an avian cabaret. The air is thick with the spring's hope, and as I'm prone to do each year, I find myself prone to the spring questions. (Sung to the tunes of the songbirds.)

How can a cardinal be so chipper?

How do I describe the new, almost Laffy-Taffy purple of the young redbud?

Where do tiger lilies come from; how do they seem to spring from nowhere each year?

How can I observe this season with intention?

How can I stay present to it?

That last question--the question of presence--it is the trickiest one. And yet, this is the first and best spring of 2017. It will come with new life, give birth to summer, then pass like the mother mayfly. This fleeting season deserves presence, attention, examination, observation.


If a season visits and the people fail to observe it, what was its visitation but an exercise in the perfunctoriness of nature and the incurious self-centeredness of men?

Tell me.



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Marriage Letters: On New Seasons

On the first Monday of each month, Amber and I are writing marriage letters to each other. Sure, there are qualified experts who've written well about marriage, but we're writing into our marriage. Read here, then jump over to Amber's place to read her Marriage Letter.


Dear Amber,

The Dogwoods are blooming. The scarlet cardinal and his muted bride have returned.  The stone's been rolled away by the rebirth of perfect light. This is the shape of the changing season.

It's Eastertide, and the darkness of the harsh Lenten season has lifted, bringing the tender tingle of morning's cool resurrection air with it. Each Spring brings with it the hope of new life, and the seedbed of that hope is found in our work. We've been cultivating hope over these last few weeks, I having moved crossties until my forearms burned, and you having worked the soil with a tiller.

Last weekend, I took a break from the heavy lifting, sat under the pecan tree and watched as you made the rows straight. You wrangled two different tillers--a smaller one, which was a dog-cussable joke of a machine, and then a larger cultivator, one which begged you to hang on for dear life. Up and down the rows you went, and I smiled. As the wise book says, it's a wife of noble character who "sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks." (Prov. 31:17) By all indications, I've married a noble woman.

Amber Tiller

It's not just the garden where we cultivate Spring's new life. Spring springs eternal as we explore what it means to work in the fields of the local church. When I outed my want for a quieter space of communion last Advent, you nodded in quiet agreement. We'd both been asking whether a more liturgical space might be better for the rhythm of our family worship, and turns out, this was a good and right inclination.


We are a group not much bigger than the disciples before Pentecost, and though we miss our larger extended family across town, this smaller group has become our immediate family. The twenty of us (give or take) meet, and we daydream about serving each other and the community. We gather for meals and evening prayers. We enjoy each other.


This has been our home throughout this Lenten season, and you've taken to considering them in your morning prayers. You pray for growth--not the kind that leads to a packed house (necessarily), but the kind that leads to new life. You've spoken the words "rest," over the community, too, prayed that our congregation might wear an easier yoke. You've read scripture over us, bowed before the altar and spoken the words of Isaiah with trembling lips. This, too, is a strong sort of work, I think. I watch you, along with the other women in our congregation, and I think--these are women who set about their work vigorously; their arms are strong for the task.

I'm thankful for the shifting season, for springing green of new life all around. I'm thankful for our little garden and our tiny congregation. This has become our "blue true dream of sky," and though we toil under the Ozark sun for it, we find ourselves sinking into a more restful rhythm. This is becoming the rhythm of our marriage, too. A little toil, a little rest, a little springing of new life. [tweetherder]It's the little that adds up over time, that piles atop itself until it is what some might call abundance.[/tweetherder]

Thank you for working these fields with me. Thank you for exercising arms that are strong for the task. Thank you for walking with me through every new season.

For everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes,



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