Friday, April 21, 2017

Springing from the Ground

In some years past, spring has crept up on me unawares. I looked out the window surprised to find the ground covered in fresh green grass.  This year the transformation seemed to come more slowly, probably because I was watching so intently. From the start of spring, I have looked out the window every day examining the ground five floors below. Dead yellow grass and bare brown earth. One day after a rain, I noticed the first hints of green. The next day the fresh grass had spread a little further, mixing with the dry remnants of the last year. Each day the green spread a little more until one day I discovered the whole ground covered in beautiful vibrant new life.
Spring often comes in slow, stumbling steps. One day the trees are covered with pink and yellow and white blossoms. The sky is blue and spacious. The air is warm and gentle, the world is friendly and accepting, bursting with life. The next day the clouds turn dark without the promise of rain. The wind picks up, cold and menacing. Even the flowers seem muted, disappointed. Perhaps spring was just a dream. Winter will not so easily give up the fight.
Healing also comes slowly when you are paying attention. Is today better than the last? Is anything really changing? Some days the world seems full of hope. Life is not so hard. I feel something like energy. Without great effort, my thoughts naturally turn positive. I find myself noticing the shine in Adalyn’s eyes and the softness of Nadia’s cheeks and the vivacious aura that radiates from Juliana.
Other days the world seems hostile again, irreparably broken, and I am broken in it. My thoughts swirl into darkness.  I find myself noticing the road that is torn and broken, the person in dark glasses watching me with a blank face, or a fluorescent light flickering in an empty window and think, “That is weird. Ominous. Something is not right.” I must remind myself that there is nothing inherently strange about sunglasses or road construction or dying light bulbs. But there is truth in my thoughts - the world is broken and waiting for healing.

The brokenness is real and so is the healing. Even Jesus, who saw the whole picture and knew the end of things, experienced grief and exhaustion because he was human. When his friend Lazarus died, Jesus didn’t just tell the sisters, “Stop crying guys, I’m about to raise him from the dead!” He also entered into their suffering and wept with them. He was grieved by the brokenness he saw in the world. He groaned with the weight of burden placed upon him. He was “a man of sorrow, acquainted with grief.” He understands us in all our humanness.

There was a moment all those years ago, a few days, when it seemed that death and brokenness and despair had the last word. The sky darkened and the earth shook. The people cried out in fear. The earth was torn apart, and his followers hid in despair. But it was not the end.

In fact, it was just the beginning. The day of greatest darkness birthed the dawn of greatest light. Cruel wounds brought healing, death brought life, despair brought hope, condemnation brought grace.
We look around and some days all we see is the brokenness, but we can look into it without despair. And we can also look for evidences of life - in the shimmering evening sky, in the sound of baby giggles, in a counter wiped clean, in the blessing of mercies and coffee new every morning. Each spring the new flowers and grass remind us that death does not win. Brokenness is being restored.  When we open our eyes, we see glimpses all around.

All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

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