Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Spring Will Come

I started writing this post weeks ago and began thinking about it weeks before that.   Tonight seemed like THE night to finish and publish it given this freakish snow fall on APRIL 15!
The calendar says it's spring, but the weather forecasts say winter has forgotten to take a hike.  Just days after we celebrated the arrival of spring, white stuff, aka 'snow' (the new four letter word) fell once again from the sky.  Even my 9 year old son complained that he was sick of snow.  You know it's been a long winter when a nine year old boy moans at the threat of more snow rather than falling to his knees to plead the gates of Heaven for it to be true.

Upon losing track of which number snow fall for the winter we were experiencing or anticipating, I adopted a mantra to help keep me from complaining. That mantra was, "Spring will come."  I figured it has come every year; it will come again. Renewal, rejuvination, rebirth. It will all come. And, when we pulled out our spring basket on March 22 and filled it with seeds to plant, bubbles to blow and eggs to dye, I replaced the mantra of "Spring will come" with "Spring has sprung."

But, I looked outside today and spring most definitely has not sprung. Aside from rain saturating the earth, there are few signs of spring's arrival.  I still have to grab a coat when I go outside.  A few buds are peeking through the ground, but not many, and I wonder if the ones brave enough to rear their buds will survive.  Temperatures have dipped below freezing multiple nights since spring "arrived." (***And, now, on April 15th, after many more buds have erupted and many vegetables have been planted, it snows and is below freezing after experiencing glorious temperatures in the seventees just days ago.)

We long for spring, and we have caught glimpses of it. Tomorrow morning many of the glimpses may have frozen to death overnight but that is not entirely the point. Sorry to be a downer here.  I promise this post will end on a good note. 

Yes, we long for spring while we endure winter.
Spring has come but it hasn't, not the spring our hearts truly long for. 

The winter of this fallen earth remains even as I take in the beauty of blooming buds outside. 
Our friend, Jonathan, who is just in his thirties, lingers in the hospital for months now trying to recover from his THIRD kidney transplant.  
Another friend sends a sad text letting me know she has lost the baby she prayed many years for and had a privileged 7 weeks to carry in her womb.  
Then there is the woman from Utah who was arrested for murdering and covering up the remains of six of her own babies which is not only hideous but deeply hurtful in light of the loss my friend is still mourning. 

Positive thinking only gets us so far and it just does not erase these realities.  

Nirvana is nowhere to be found in hospital rooms or jail cells.

And, I have thought, "OH, Jesus, how I LONG for spring....not just the spring that brings daffodils and daisies but the spring that brings YOU again, the spring that ushers in the new earth and new heaven, new bodies for those who are in Christ, the new Kingdom of His righteous reign."

But, "spring" will come. It will. There is something, rather someONE who will take us farther than self affirmations.  There is someONE who exceeds the state of nirvana, who will take all the wrongs of this world and one day make it right, who will call all evil to account, who will fully and finally shackle all that shackles us, who will burst on the scene will more brilliance than any row of azaleas ever could display.
His name is Jesus.
And, he came to earth once. We celebrate His first coming at Christmas.
This week, we not only remember His dying but also rejoice at His resurrection because it assures us that death has been conquered, eternal life in Heaven with Him is possible, spring will come again.

What is in my heart and what I have tried to communicate in this post is perhaps more succintly and poetically expressed in the lines taken from one of our family's favorite series, "The Chronicles of Narnia", 
Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.

― C.S. LewisThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

We WILL have spring again. 

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Nature's Hidden Treasures

Between the stress of having to be a responsible parent far beyond my preference or capacity this week and the clear, blue skies, this day beckoned me to enjoy some outside time.

I was in great need of refreshment for my soul, mind and body. For me, nothing sooths my soul, quiets my mind and energizes my body quite like being in the great outdoors.

After spending some time watching our kiddos and their friends splash in the spring-cold water of our nearby stream, make mud pies, jump on the trampoline and romp through our daffodils, I decided to pick up where my mother in law left off just a few days ago clearing away layers of leaves left from last fall in one of our flower beds.

What looked like a thin layer of leaves turned out to be a rather thick blanket of them which I discovered was hiding precious treasures beneath it.

First, little green sprouts appeared that may be tulips?  This is our first spring here in our new home, and we have not yet seen what beauty spring will have for us here at Montford, but we are excited to find out.

The more I raked, the more I began to see that there was quite a number of blooming plants I had no idea existed beneath all those leaves.

A part from the sheer (odd?) joy I find in physical labor, which was raking today, I was near giddy to be rewarded for my work with these gems.  This propelled me to keep raking even as dusk was settling in and my arms were beginning to quiver from the repetitive task of raking.

I could not finish the entire flower bed before I needed to set the rakes aside for the night in order to complete indoor tasks and prepare myself and our home for this upcoming week's needs.  But, I eagerly made a plan to return to my work tomorrow evening, hoping no rain is in the forecast and I can get back to raking, uncovering more of nature's hidden treasures that might still be lying underneath those layers of leaves. 

It made me think of some aspects of friendship. Initially, when we meet someone we see just the surface. But, we work at discovering what might be below the surface. And, it is work, isn't it? Asking questions. Giving time and careful attention to the details of another's story? Remembering new information about the person. Finding ways to bless her and communicate affection for her.

With time, attention and persistence, however, we often discover gems just waiting to be uncovered.

I am in a season of needing to make and develop new friendships.  There have been several changes in our life over this past year, and I know God is calling me to pursue and embrace new friendships--not at the forsaking of "old" friendships, which I always have to assure myself of because I am a "loyal to the death" type of friend and the idea of "moving on" relationally can start the water works flowing for this girl rather quickly (*if you are just getting to know me, you might want to take note of that and run now.)  ;)  And, yes, I know that was one, really long RUN ON sentence. oy!

So as I move forward relationally, I am going to hold on to this lovely picture God provided tonight as I raked my flower bed, that of hidden treasures lying below the surface. I want to gear myself up for a 'treasure hunt.'

How about you?  Have you experienced friendship in this way, finding unexpected treasures in your pursuit and/or committment to a friend? I'd love to hear about it.