Down Nature's Paths



A FRIEND wrote me in a Tennessee March: "I'm not sure that I really believe in a life after death." I looked out at the trees and hills; and then I replied: "One might be tempted to doubt a future life in fall or winter, but not in this season, when the miracle of resurrection is taking place all around us."

But even last fall was a hopeful season, not a despair. Last fall all nature was preparing, not for death, but for rebirth. The sky was filled with feathered migrants winging south before encroaching frost. But why? The better to be prepared to return north this spring, well fed, well dressed, vital in instinct and life force, for the miracle of parenthood. Even the frail butterflies were moved by the instinct of survival, and some of us witnessed that marvel, the migration of the Monarchs. Countless other insects sought shelters in the ground or under multiplied means of covering—in or on or under every crevice, twig, or scrap of loose bark of a tree; in corners of human habitations; in houses they constructed themselves of paper or mud. The larger forms of life entered the mysterious, dim world of hibernation, more similar to death than ordinary sleep, from which every mother creature will emerge this spring accompanied by her little ones—the multiplication of life as well as its survival.

Time nor space suffice to list the hopeful habitations, from the mud beneath the frozen pond to the caves within the treeless, wind-swept peaks, where life sleeps in full assurance of the resurrection.

In the plant world, no annual withered away before it had laden the wind, the fur of moving creatures, or the ground about its base with new plants carefully packaged for transportation and storage until the season of new birth. The perennials also sent forth their seeds and then withdrew their life forces into the roots to rest: a savings account of nature on demand of spring. The trees, the masterpieces of plant life, rested, disrobed and unprotected against winter's most killing attacks. Disrobed? The leaves were gone, but only to carry on elsewhere their life-supplying functions. They clothed the ground, protecting plant roots, sheltering insects and small animals. But the trees bore next summer's foliage and fruitage in waterproof, frostproof containers, some fur-lined, some varnished, some hidden under the bark-all in anticipation of a future life. And the great river of the sap had withdrawn to its mysterious subterranean springs to await the call of the Lifegiver this spring.

Nature knew it, though foolish man may have doubted it, that it is the word of One who does not lie that says: "Seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter . . . shall not cease."

Doubt a resurrection, a future life? If you did last fall, it was blind misinterpretation of nature's hopefulness. If you do so this spring, it will be in the face of world-wide visible evidence. The spirit of life pervades the globe itself and all its animate and vegetative products. Will your soul persist in choosing death, when you might come to Him and have life?