April Showers

“April showers bring May flowers.”

My mother taught me this couplet during childhood. Even for a young boy, the meaning seemed obvious. Flowers need rain to grow.

According to the Internet, the source of all factual knowledge, the short poem originated in the 12th century. Thomas Tusser included the verse in his collected works entitled, “A Hundred Good Points of Husbandry.” I apologize, good readers, but I did not research the other ninety-nine points.

Tusser may have “borrowed” his rhyme from a passage in “The Canterbury Tales.” Chaucer wrote:

“When in April the sweet showers fall
That pierce March’s drought to the root and all
And bathed every vein in liquor that has power
To generate therein and sire the flower.”

Call me juvenile, but I prefer Beverly Burch’s version to Geoffrey Chaucer’s verse!

Others seek deeper meaning in the words. We live in a fallen world where it rains on the just and unjust alike. However, God uses life’s storms to cultivate spiritual virtues. All sunshine a desert makes. On the far side of the torrent, we discover divine blessings.

Finally, April showers bring May flowers; but do you know what May flowers bring? The Pilgrims!

May the world titrate measures of rain, sunshine, and flowers in each of our lives.

Perfect Halves

Children possess an innate sense of fairness. They vigilantly stand guard against any perceived inequity. Even the slightest slight can elicit the elemental cry, “It’s not fair!”

(BTW, adults are grownup children who just disguise this proclivity.)

My wife and I experienced this reality while raising two children born three years apart. Although we tried to treat each child equitably, both felt the other was favored! Each was convinced that the other always got the larger share. Our protestations that we loved both equally fell on deaf ears.

I learned to include my daughter and son in the division of anything into halves. We followed a simple but effective rule. One got to cut the FILL IN THE BLANK into two halves. Then the other chose which half s/he wanted.

Inspired by enlightened self-interest, the child doing the dividing undertook the task with scientific precision. Otherwise, his or her sibling might benefit by picking a slightly larger half.

Some treat love like a limited resource, dividing time, attention, and emotion into slices carefully served. After all, there’s only enough pie to go around.

Others learn that love is limitless. The more we give, the more we receive—packed down, shaken together, and overflowing into our lives. Share the pie freely because we can always bake more!

It turns out that each of us is God’s favorite child. Because we are loved, we can then run the risk of loving others with undivided hearts. No matter how you slice it, God loves and cherishes each of us for who we are.

Excuse me, please. Suddenly, I have developed a hankering for a slice of pie and a cup of coffee.

Quiet Influence

In his book entitled The Fall of Fortresses, Elmer Bendiner described his experiences in World War II B-17 bombers. During a bombing run over Kassel, Germany, antiaircraft fire hit his plane. The ground crew found eleven 20mm shells in the fuel tank. Miraculously, none of the explosive charges detonated.

The next day the pilot asked the armorers for a shell as a good luck souvenir. However, intelligence officers had confiscated the ammunition.

The pilot later discovered none of the shells contained an explosive charge. Inside one shell, however, they found a note from an anonymous Czechoslovakian factory worker. The scrawled message said, “This is all we can do for you now.”

Quiet influence. Small deeds that result in huge results. Whether we realize it, our words, actions, attitudes, and example affect others around us. Our influence extends far beyond our immediate contacts.

In football, offensive linemen use a technique called “influence blocking,” which depends on misdirection rather than force. For example, a play calls for the running back to go up the middle. However, the guard pulls like he’s blocking for a sweep. The defensive player follows him, creating a hole for the back. Without ever making contact, the lineman influences others around him.

People are always watching, and our quiet influence affects others around us. We may never know what impact it makes upon their lives. We are challenged to lead lives worthy of example. It might make a difference in this world and the next.

Post-Resurrection Appearances

According to the four Gospels, Jesus appeared to his followers for forty days following the Resurrection. Then he ascended into heaven. The accounts of the post-resurrection appearances vary by author.

The conflated stories state the risen Lord greeted Mary at the empty tomb. Later Jesus joined two disciples traveling from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Easter night he appeared to a gathering of disciples in the Upper Room. A week later he challenged “Doubting” Thomas to believe.

Paul compiled a somewhat different list in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, including Cephas (Simon Peter), the Twelve, a crowd of 500 believers, James (the brother of Jesus?) and Paul. The Gospel writers did not record several of these incidents, and the apostle provides no additional details.

In Paul’s account, Jesus appeared to Simon Peter first. Perhaps the apostle never heard about Mary’s encounter at the tomb. Or Paul chauvinistically gave Peter top billing. We can only imagine what the Lord said to the Big Fisherman who had denied him three times in the high priest’s courtyard.

Then Christ appeared to over 500 disciples at one time. This feels like a big miss by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I wish Paul had included more information about the incredible event.

Jesus also appeared to James, who was most likely Jesus’ brother who eventually led the Jerusalem church. Earlier in Jesus’ ministry, his mother and siblings thought Jesus had lost his mind. On the far side of the empty tomb, MAYBE Jesus greeted James with the words, “So, little brother, what do you think now?

The church professes that Jesus ascended into heaven where he sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. However, I believe the post-resurrection appearances continue to occur. The Holy Spirit appears in our lives daily. For those with eyes to see and ears to hear, the risen Lord is all about.