When Emily and May were little, one of my favorite books to read to them was Franklin’s Baby Sister by Paulette Bourgeois. Our copy was tattered – it came to us second-hand – but it was well loved. The girls loved the easy rhythm of the Franklin stories (we had quite a few in our home library), they enjoyed the detailed illustrations that encouraged a deeper understanding of the story, and they liked that Franklin had ups and downs, struggles and successes, just like they did.
In Franklin’s Baby Sister, the family is expecting a new baby, and Franklin is very excited to be a big brother. Franklin’s mom told him that the baby would be born in the spring, which was right around the corner. Tired of waiting for spring to arrive, one afternoon Franklin set out to find it. Flanked with pots and pans, and a spoon for banging them, he went looking for spring. He crunched over snow, calling for spring. He looked around tree trunks. He banged his pots and pans. But spring was not to be found. A sad Franklin even got on hands and knees to examine the garden, but he couldn’t find spring there, either.
But what Franklin couldn’t see through his disappointment were the buds on the shrubs next to him and on the branches above him. He didn’t see the bird just over his shoulder. He didn’t notice the sunlight, different in its promise of warmth. The girls and I would linger over this page, time after time, seeing for ourselves the signs of spring. It became such a habit that we took the practice live and would look for signs of spring on our walks and rides around the neighborhood. It was such fun to search for buds on trees; new growth around street lights; green patches where for months, only brown had been. What was a scavenger hunt of sorts to them was a promise to me. The promise that the earth is constantly being renewed. That the days would again lengthen and warm. That despite the odds, surviving and thriving is what all living things are meant to do.
Today, spring is coming in perhaps the weirdest and most challenging season many of us have ever lived through. We are sheltering in place while seeing empty shelves at the grocery store. We’re hearing sickness and death tallies rise by the day. We’re watching stocks tumble and leaders squabble. We’re trying to work and teach and parent in ways many of us have never done before. And yet, through it all, spring is coming. Our faith in Jesus Christ reassures us that new life and renewal are ours. Cling to the hope that a life in Christ gives you, that you are loved and that our time of renewal will come.