My winter morning routine consists of turning on the coffee maker, then racing to unload the dishwasher and throw in a load of laundry before the dripping pot fills. Winter coffee is consumed on the retro green floral love seat in my bedroom. Spring coffee is preceded by the same coffee pot race, but it is consumed as I stroll around my gardens. Right now, it's a brisk walk. We're still waiting for real spring in the mountains. The kitchen window thermometer has been reading somewhere in the high 30's as I pour my cup. One small patch of snow is still lurking under a tree in the yard. My perennials are all acting like victims of a violent crime. They are only cautiously peaking a couple hesitant of inches out of hiding to make sure it's safe to come out. Even though there are some green signs of life, the dominant focal point of my garden is last year's dead stems, and dirt. Not even one crocus yet, and today is the first day of May!
Today, on my dirt stroll, the only thing blooming was a thought in my head. This thought was about what I choose to believe when something expected is delayed. Spring is delayed this year. There has been little solid evidence that leaves and flowers ever lived here. And yet, I choose to put on my shoes, stroll outside, and crane down over the soil looking for signs of life. Every morning, I expect life. I peer down into the gnarly mess of old dead stems, with unwavering expectation that tender sprouts will shoot up from that dormant space. There is no question about 'if' Spring will happen. My daily dirt stroll always assumes a 'when.'

There are silent messages to be found in the yard. The mountain peak towers over the forest without a word, and points to the possibility of something larger and more powerful than any of us. An afternoon lightning bolt can steal away a life, and jolt us to remember the unpredictability of death. The quaking of aspen leaves indicate the direction and existence of an invisible and untameable wind. And, my morning garden is a mute declaration of something larger than flowers. Every year, it silently repeats that new life springs forth from apparently dead places.

Maybe you'll relate to this, maybe you won't. But, there are areas of my life that desperately need to grow. There are parts of me that are dormant and need to wake. They act like victims of violent crime, afraid to emerge. I have familiar dances that I do so that I do not have to think about those things. Because if I think about them, I have to dare to hope for something better. And in one particular area, I have dared to hope too many times without big transformational results.
Said another way, when God's work delays arrival in my gnarly dead stems, I lose the hope for new sprouts. And, hope deferred too many times turns to despair. So, I'd rather sit inside and not feel the cold reality. I'd rather sit on the flat green flowers of my warm sedentary couch, content to tell myself that's 'good enough.' In the wintry places of my life, I start to believe there is no 'when' of spring. I start to settle for a hopeless and apparently dead state. I begin believe the transformation of new life as only a possibility, not a certainty. I settle for fake flowers on a green couch.

And yet ... I now wake in the morning and walk outside in the cold of spring and expect very real flowers to grow in my garden. I peer down into the black dirt with no doubts that life exists below. I expect something to rescue and restore what is buried somewhere under the surface. Nature silently sends this cosmic truth to me; God redeems lost beauty. He breaths life into dead places. Tender shoots raise above brittle stems. Wide-awake color overtakes black-and-white sleep.
So I walk, and watch, and wait, for when it all happens. I believe the greening of spring will happen. Its faithful repetition over time is the expression of something proven and trustworthy. It is a yearly anchor for hope.

Over the years, I have watched the repetition of redemption and transformation in many dead places of my real life. I have an anchor of hope for my soul. I do. So why don't I get it? Why does my faith not make a daily stroll of hope around the dormant place in my own soul? Why don't I peer into that one place and expect life? Instead, I carefully step around that unredeemed pit. To me, it only looks, smells, and feels like death. I have learned its edges. Because, a slip over the edge sometimes means a fight for my life. I intentionally avoid it. And I have slowly come to believe there is no hope of conquest or resurrection for what's down there. It is my dormant dirt.
But today that small blooming thought made me look inward: What I see and believe for the garden, I refuse to believe for myself. And today, the general revelation in my garden asks me to specifically believe. It points to something trustworthy and faithful and says, "Get off the couch and step into the garden. Don't settle for fake flowers. Search for something real. Expect New Life."
Maybe you need to hear it, too. So I'll speak it from the garden. This I believe:
There is perennial reason to hope. God has to ability to resurrect lost beauty. He will bring life from the dirt; And this not an 'if', but a 'when.'

"I am the resurrection and the life."


Laura said...

this is beyond beautiful. in the way it is written, in the hope it offers. the God in you is inspiring.

justplainann said...

thank you for putting into words what i sometimes cannot. know that i continue to lift you up, dear friend.