Punxutawney Phil just predicted an early Spring.
I can’t remember ever needing to hear that brighter days are coming more than I do right now.
So much of the last couple of years has seemed harsh, cruel, unforgiving. And then 2019 brought with it the longest January in history, with deep cold, drizzling rain, no snow, and gray skies for days on end.
I needed that little groundhog to remind me Spring is coming.
The world is not as it should be. Even right here in my own home, people don’t always do right and I can’t fix them. Sometimes, I make them worse. A lot of the time, I don’t do right myself and sometimes I don’t even try. Actually, a lot of times I don’t even try.
I imagine all my groups and the people I call mine as concentric circles, rippling out and away from the center. One circle away from my home, my church is growing and changing and it’s unfamiliar and scary. Something new and beautiful is about to come into the world through this little congregation, one way or another, but right now it hurts and I’m a little scared.
My news feeds have been flooded with posts and stories and memes about abortion legislation and it’s been really heavy for all of us, I think. Heavy isn’t bad, necessarily. It’s just difficult to carry well for very long. We are all backed into our corners with our sound bites handy just in case we need to throw them at someone like an ancient justice stone. Nuance isn’t familiar or comfortable so we don’t want to engage it.
A dear friend and I disagreed on some really important points this week and now we have to live in the tension of what was heard and said. We probably didn’t understand each other perfectly and I wonder if that’s a skill we can learn from behind screens, where we have most of our interaction. We will have to find the way forward in love and with soft hearts, even though our theologies and politics and communication styles aren’t budging.
I could go on and on and on about the systems that are broken. I can get very self-righteous and indignant, actually even mean when I convince myself I hold all wisdom and knowledge and people I disagree with hold little or none. Sometimes I forget that I too, am the sum of my experiences and relationships. Sometimes I forget that Jesus said to love my enemies and pray for persecutors. He didn’t say annihilate them with my carefully curated footnotes and data points. The Jesus Way doesn’t bear much resemblance to the natural way at all.
But Spring is coming, and new life will sprout and grow. God is making streams for me in the desert even now. I was up before the sun with the baby again and I got to watch the day rise up to meet me from my seat by the window. It’s supposed to be sixty-five degrees here today and we are taking advantage of the zoo membership their grandparents gave the kids for Christmas. Before we go, we are going to work together to bring some order back to our little house to prepare for the week we will find on the other side of the Sabbath. Beds will be made for the first time in days, counters will be wiped and floors swept. Saturday chores are good work and a good practice for us. It feels like thanking God for what’s been given and making space for what’s to come.
I hope you breathe easy today. I hope you loosen your jaw, relax your shoulders and find a way to quiet the noise that can be relentless as it chases us down. I hope someone has a kind word for you and that your ears are tuned to hear it. I hope laughter comes easy for you today, and your tears and anxiety take a break. I hope you find your way to Sabbath rest and that you can hear the voice of God and rest in the knowledge that while we don’t know everything, we know enough for today. Just like a nursing mother can’t forget her baby, our Creator can’t forget us. Spring is coming, and new life will once again peek up from this winter mud. May we have eyes to see the Kingdom coming and hands and hearts that are busy bringing it to our world. If you messed up this week, I’m here to remind you that you can try again. New mercies are here and Spring can come for you as well.