Since it’s already above 55 degrees on this pre-summer day, that will bring highs in the 80s, and the promise of rain tomorrow, I decided I would crank open the window in my office. I’ll probably close it again if the air conditioner kicks on, but for now, on this bright May morning, it’s nice to have some fresh air flowing in.
Of course, the first thing I heard when I opened the window, was the constant background sound of people driving on the interstate – about a mile away. It’s not a terrible rumble, and actually, if you aren’t really listening for it, it pretty much fades away. What overcomes that sound, of course, is having the air filled with the sound of birds doing their morning “stuff.” When I focus on listening to those songs, I hear robins, of course, and the sparrows chittering away, and the occasional finch or chickadee. The morning doves come along right after, with the cooing from the top perch of the houses around us. They appear to be big shots, needing to be up as far as possible to sing their song.
Finally, since it’s May, and the nests were built a few weeks ago, we are starting to hear the sound of baby blackbirds, seemingly cussing their parents out for not getting food to the table fast enough. Their terrible, off-key squawking is then mirrored by all the adult blackbirds, as they also sit at the top of the spruce trees and sing with their tin ears. And loudly, as though that is the song of spring we crave. They are really the thugs of the bird world.
Since we have had no precipitation to speak of in about a month and a half, and the grass and the plants around the house were straining to green up and bud up, I started the sprinkler system last Friday. Since then, we have had two long cycles of “rain” that comes from the ground instead of the sky. That familiar sound of “ch-ch-ch-ch” as the individual heads follow their planned path through the nine different zones gives us the off-beat percussion to the morning’s sounds. I will of course need to shut of the same sprinklers after they are done this morning, before the deluge of rain promised over the coming six days. That’s of course why I am also getting the car washed today, before the rain comes and spots everything up.
Beyond listening to that wonderful blend of sounds – and some noise – when I open my window, something else happens. The fairly stale air of my office, flavored only by the smell of a cup of coffee sitting faithfully by my left hand, ready to be sipped as I think of what else to write – suddenly that air is filled with a beautiful sweet aroma.
You see, it’s the middle of May in North Dakota, and that means the hundreds, and probably thousands of crabapple trees have come into bloom. It happened over the weekend, almost overnight, when the white, red and pink flowers of the crabapple trees burst open. As you drive this week through Fargo, it’s a more beautiful sight than even seeing Christmas lights at night in December. The sheer beauty of these trees almost forces us to point to different ones, and almost sigh in amazement at how excellently lovely they are.
The folks who built our home about 25 years ago decided to plant a white crab in our front yard, about 25 feet from my office window. It’s now huge, and almost breathtaking to see each spring. Beyond the beauty, however, the flowers, in their effort to give back to nature, fill the air with a sweet perfume. It’s not fancy – just delightful, and invites every bee and other pollinating insect to come on over and enjoy the pollen. Frankly, however, I don’t think we have enough bees in the region to take care of them all – but that’s their logistics problem. For me and my open office window, especially when I sniff on purpose, I’m almost carried away with the wonderful and life-filled crabapple cologne. Two years ago, we planted a little stick of a crab tree –a red one – in the middle of our backyard garden. I’ve always believed, if you have the space and the money, that planting trees should be your first priority, as they will out last us all, hopefully. The little one is standing tall over the other shrubs, and this spring, as I walk out to the garden, I notice that it’s very close to blooming, with little buds covering the branches. So the cycle continues.
Like I said, I’ll leave the window open for a while at least, until the temp outside gets above our temp inside, and the air conditioner starts to try to balance things out. Just as I can hear the dear words of my father, speaking to any child in hearing range, “You have to shut the door! I don’t want to air condition the entire front yard!” so I will dutifully seal us off again, and live within the conditioned atmosphere of a cool house. But you know, I can always simply go outside to the patio, or even spend some time in the gazebo, with the windows open, and enjoy what is happening right now.
I’ve talked a lot about living an intentional life. When I talk about it, I’m really reminding us that we have been created in the image of God. That is, God is always intentional when it comes to this world. After a long dead winter, at least up here in the northland, God reminds us, with warm winds, and bird songs, and the perfume of the trees, that life is all around us. Spring, even as it comes so late, is a hope-filling time, a life-giving time, and God’s promise fulfilled that in life or in death or even in life beyond death, God will be with us, and we are not alone. And, just for fun, our lives can be filled with beauty and joy, when we intentionally seek that out, and train ourselves to see, hear, and even smell all that God has to offer, on this wonderful Spring May day. I hope your day will be a filling, and filled with the joy of life.
Words for the day: addend and augend. Pronounced ADD-end and ODJ-end. These are really just show-off words, to show how smart you are. In a math addition problem, like 4+5=?, the first number is known as the “augend,” coming from the Latin augendum, “which is to be increased,” from the verb augeo, “increase or spread.” Just in case you are curious, it has no relation to an “auger” which comes from an entirely different set of Latin words. The second number (and any other number that joins it on that side) on the left side of the equal sign is of course the “addendum,” which is from the Latin, addere, “to add to, join, or attach.” It’s job in life is to make the augendum look good, and help it get to the other side of the equal sign. Of course, just for fun, the number on the right side of the equal sign is NOT known as the “summand” since again, those two numbers on the left together can be called that word. Instead, what we end up with when we add the summands – is simply a “sum.” You already knew that from long ago, didn’t you? Now, go add some summands today…
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.