The Wisdom of Spring

CrocusThe cover of this month's journal looks familiar to many of us at this time of year. For many people, spring is their favorite time of year. It is not only a beautiful time because of the beauty of the many spring flowers that bloom so abundantly, but it is also a time of birth. Baby animals seem to be under every bush, and the shallows of lakes are awash with fish of every type and description, building and maintaining their nests. One of my neighbors, who is one of the best gardeners I have ever known, is fond of wishing that spring would never leave, but we could not have spring year-round. When I hear a statement like that, I am reminded of the old line that asks "why can't we have Christmas all year long?" We all know the impossibility of that statement, no matter how much we may enjoy the Christmas spirit, but it is also important to recognize that spring is equally impossible to have all year long. Like all of the seasons, spring serves a vital and designed purpose, and too much spring would be as disastrous as too much winter.

Every season has a designed purpose in sustaining life on this planet. Summer is a time when animals and plants flourish and grow to their sexual and biological adulthood. Food and water are available in maximum quantities ideally, and plants and animals gain their maximum strength and reproductive vigor. Maintaining balances between food supplies and consumers is obviously a complicated business, and insects and animals would be likely to eat themselves out of existence if there were not some equalizers in the design of the system. One equalizer is predators who can limit the number of plant eaters that would otherwise destroy the vegetation and throw the whole ecology out of balance. The problem is that predators can be limited or eliminated by a variety of things--poor reproductive environments, other predators feeding on them, ecological disasters, and the like. All of us have seen caterpillars, beetles, or worms that eat all of the leaves off of plants late in the summer. In our area we can have Japanese beetles by the thousands that can strip my ash tree and roses in the front yard so badly that no leaves are left. Before this process gets so badly out of balance that it threatens the entire ecosystem, winter sets in and puts a stop to virtually all of it. The plants lose their leaves and shut down for the winter. The whole animal population goes into seclusion--either by hibernation or at least a withdrawal from high food demands. During the winter, many positive things happen to plants and animals as the water table is recharged, nutrients are repositioned for recycling in the environment, and reproductive processes are coordinated for the coming of spring.

IrisWhen spring actually arrives, there is a careful coordination of events that benefit the ecosystem and everything within it. Extra water is supplied because of more rain, snow melting, and lower evaporation and transpiration due to the cooler temperatures and plants not being leafed out. This increases the chances of survival for every living thing. Massive birthing of animals means that the food supply of predators is so enormous that overeating of the things carnivores feed on is not going to happen. The explosion of the growth of vegetation means that food supplies and hiding areas for animals at the bottom of the food chain are provided. Insects that may have been feeding heavily on plants in the late summer have their reproproductive processes designed in such a way that they do not seriously impact the supply of vegetable material that animals need in the spring.

If all of this were taking place year-round, it would be a very short period of time before the system would be thrown seriously out of balance. The seasons have a purpose, and every living thing has a design within that seasonal make up. As the writer of Ecclesiates so beautifully said it:

Everything has its appointed hour, there is a time for all things under heaven. A time for birth, a time for death. A time to plant and a time to uproot... He assigned each to its proper time. But for the mind of man he has appointed mystery, that man may never fathom God's own purpose from beginning to end (Ecclesiastes 3:1,2,11, Moffatt translation).

--John N. Clayton

Back to Contents Does God Exist?, MayJun04.