One of the things that I miss about Nebraska are the Sandhill Cranes. In late February, early March, the Sandhill Cranes migrate north from their southern confines, landing in Nebraska for a mid-migration pit stop . . . thousands of them land along a corridor between Grand Island and Kearney to refuel for the northern journey. The cranes were also a symbol of spring for me . . . that and road kill (particularly skunks and raccoons). When the cranes arrived Nebraskans could count on two things, one more big snow storm and the arrival of spring. The arrival of the cranes was always an annual ritual I loved to witness . . . and, I miss it.
Montana is a long ways off the beaten path of most Sandhill Cranes . . . but, we do get them in small numbers. In our area they usually show up in pairs and quite spread out in the area . . . but, as I said, we do get them. And, yes, they are a sign of spring here in Montana.
Between the darkness of Good Friday and the light of Easter . . . the Sandhill Cranes have arrived. Could this be a sign from God . . . a movement of the Holy Spirit . . . as we reach the climax of the season of Lent? I don’t know, but I do know that they give me hope . . . lots of hope. As I said, the cranes have always been a sign of new beginnings . . . such as spring . . . where all things start over. Things are slowly turning green, the birds are coming back, the babies are being born, and the temperatures are slowly rising. Yeah, spring can’t be too far behind the cranes.
The day between Good Friday and Easter . . . what some call “Holy Saturday” . . . had always been an awkward time for those of us who follow Jesus. It has always been a time when none of us is really sure what we are supposed to do. Are we supposed to be remorse, knowing that Jesus was nailed to a cross the night before . . . or, are we supposed to be anxious and excited since we know the resolution of the story . . . how Jesus rises from the dead? I don’t know.
All I do know is that it was a beautiful day to head out and check out the area . . . to make the most of what God had bless us with as we waited. It was a great surprise to stumble upon two Sandhill Cranes strolling along the lake. A sign of hope . . . a sign of new beginnings . . . a blessing. I cannot speak for anyone else, but under the bright Montana sky, between the gloom of Good Friday and the joy of Easter morning, I found hope in two Sandhill Cranes. There are new beginnings. Life is good . . . life is good even when the winter of life lingers on and spring seems so far, far away.
Sometimes the signs of Easter have nothing to do with the empty tomb or cross on a hill. Sometimes it has to do with a sign . . . the cranes are back.