It’s amazing how quickly dead things can come back to life.
In a matter of months, across California, our fire-charred, ugly-brown, crunchy dry hills transformed into verdant, lush, Ireland-green landscapes full of 8-foot-tall wildflowers.
We call it a “super bloom,” and it happens any year we get above-average winter rain, no crazy winds, and no extreme temperature swings. The last super bloom was 2017, but this year’s is a once-in-a-generation event.
The blooms across California have been nothing short of miraculous: orange poppies, purple lupine, desert sunflowers, evening primrose, wild mustard and more. One of our favorite Orange County hiking spots, Peter’s Canyon, was barren and brown a few months ago but is today covered in green, yellow, and purple.
Sadly the wonder of it for many has been reduced to an Instagram photo op. Indeed, the masses of locals and tourists eager to snap a perfect photo of themselves among #SuperBloom poppy fields has wrought havoc in some of the most spectacular super bloom locations (watch this short clip to see the Instagrammers in action). Due to traffic jams, rattlesnake bites, trampled flowers, overflowing public toilets, even helicopters landing illegally on poppy fields, the city of Lake Elsinore was actually forced to declare the super bloom a public safety emergency. How tragic that for many of these flower-hunting hordes, the goal was not to see the beautiful flowers but to be seen amidst them (preferably with Golden Hour lighting).
But for those with eyes to truly see and contemplate this phenomenon of God’s creation, there are profound lessons to be learned. This is true of almost anything in creation if we only take the time to pay attention. Psalm 19 says the natural world declares God’s glory. Creation is speaking. Are we listening?
The California super bloom is speaking theologically, just in time for Easter. What is it saying? Here are a few things I hear:
Resurrection is an act of God’s grace, not our efforts. The super bloom happened not because of brilliant new farming techniques or a statewide seeding campaign. It happened because of something totally outside man’s control: rain. And it won’t happen again until God sends us another wetter-than-average winter. The greatest gifts are out of our control. They can only be received and enjoyed.
No one is too broken to be resurrected by God’s grace. Perhaps the most visceral lesson of the super bloom is the before and after comparison. The California hills in November were deader than dead—crispy kindling for record-breaking wildfires. But beneath the rocky soil, and in some cases because of the ashy residue of fires, there are billions of flower seeds laying dormant, waiting to be revived.
Of course the super bloom cannot speak specifically of Jesus Christ, a Trinitarian God, and the earth-shattering historical events of first century Palestine. But it testifies generally to the sort of God who would orchestrate the events we celebrate at Easter. As John Frame writes in Nature’s Case for God, “Though nature does not itself proclaim the gospel of Christ, it serves as its presupposition, its foundation.”
May we worship God all the more this Easter by turning away from our phones and lifting our eyes to the hills, and the poppy fields, and the super blooms that speak of God’s glory and grace.