When Spring Comes Reluctantly

 

I’ve been working against a deadline.

On Monday I will have completed another year of life. 42 of them so far. Another circle around the sun. Another cycle of life. Another end. Another beginning.

It has not been lost on me that the day falls immediately after Easter this year. It did the same 11 years ago when I was cradling a week-old baby in Sunday services. How fresh a resurrection message falls on days like these.

Emerging from Darkness. New Life.  A Birth Day.

In preparation for such a day – especially against the backdrop of Lent – I could not help but think on the need for some dying in my life. On the giving up. The letting go.

What needed to die to make room for new life?
What was I not willing to carry forward into my 43rd year?
Where was my surrender less than everything?

I often do my best work against a deadline.

But the frost on budding trees tells me this. Sometimes Spring comes reluctantly.

It comes in fits and spurts. It comes in fully blooming pear trees outside the tightly closed windows where the furnace has turned back on. It comes in pollen-covered sidewalks traversed by coat-covered people.

Spring does not bow to a deadline. Awakening comes in its own time.

I, too, am coming reluctantly to the turning of a page. As glorious is the spring, the winter lingers still.

There is more dying to be done.

There will be celebration over the coming days. Family. Easter. Birthday.
There will be warm days and deep laughter and lots and lots of life.
There will be Spring.

But deep at the roots – where the darkness never eases – it is the breaking  open that lives on still.

There is no deadline on that.

for the promise of sweet breezes

I fight the survivor instinct that tells me to revive.

There is a time to die.

My four decades of doing things my way have brought me no closer to the prize – to the wideness of grace, to the deep well of peace, to the loftiness of lightness in my being.

It’s time to stop doing. And start dying.

Some things are a swift and merciful kill. So many others linger right on the edge. My will. My way. It gasps for breath and begs for salvation.

Oh, how it wants more time with me. But as my Jesus himself modeled, the only path to salvation is through death.

Spring is not as sweet without the winter.
New is meaningless if there never has been an old.
Resurrection never comes without first the dying.

And so it turns. Each tick of the clock marching back around to itself.
Circle after circle after circle.

Daily. Moment by moment. My will; my way; my striving; my doing.

It dies.

And from its decay blooms a more glorious way. Higher. Deeper. Wider than my striving could ever have imagined.

*********

Tightly still tucked upon itself.
The bud not ready to bloom.
I think for a moment I am her.
But, no, she is not yet me at all.

Go lower. Past the leaves. Down the stem. Under the surface.
Into the darkness.
I am not bloom, but seed.

Tightly still tucked upon itself.
Refusing to unfold.
Unwilling to die.

The breeze it carries a memory. Of sweet daisy blooms.
Into the soil it penetrates.
And the decaying seed – for the sake of a promise – releases just a bit of its skin.

The tiniest sip of living water expands me beyond today’s bindings.
There is no option but to crack.

To unfold.
For More.

To make room.
For Life.

Of worn paths and unsteady steps

grassMore than an acre of our yard is fenced. Plenty of room for our dogs to run and play and explore.

And yet they have worn a criss-cross of paths from one spot to another. A dirt track from the patio to the pond. Another from the gate to a favorite sunning spot.

Wide open spaces. Self-restricting patterns.

I wish I could say I were different.

That I haven’t worn a rut of behaviors, attitudes, reactions across the landscape of my life. That I don’t return to the known again and again, even if a wider view might reveal another route would be shorter. Or at the very least, more scenic.

If the paths affected me alone, they would still be worth reevaluating. But when I watched a new dog instinctively use the trail my own dogs had created instead of traversing the space on her own terms, I began to consider there might be larger consequences to my less-than-adventurous life paths.

Twice this week I have stepped into the unknown. Abandoned the groove and quickly disappeared in the uncharted territory.

I half expected to fall off a cliff.

Turns out the unworn ground is just as stable as my usual path.

The grass is taller there. My footing not as sure.

But when I look closely, I see the markers of those who bravely stepped before me. Who abandoned the known to explore the what could be.

And I go on.

_________________________________________________________________

Linking this reflection of Small Wonder with my friend and fellow blogger, Kelly Chripczuk, who hosts a Community of blogging Beauty Hunters at her site. Because our Big God shows himself in the most amazing small ways. #smallwonder

One Word 2015: Dwell

logo by tracimichele.com
logo by tracimichele.com

It did not arrive in a gold envelope. Nor was it announced with a Hear Ye, Hear Ye.

It started as a whisper in my periphery. A wish from the middle of my soul. A slow drawing towards a fresh experience. A message repeated in my every day.

Until I knew it was a royal invitation.

Come sit with me, Beth.

Stay close. Learn from my ways. Hide in the shadow of my wing.

        Remain. Abide. Tarry. Nest.

                 Reside. Lodge. Settle. Rest.

                          DWELL.

I have started multiple blog posts intended to announce Dwell as my 2015 One Word. But nothing got further than a sentence or two. And I think that’s because I was trying to rush what I have found to be a slow unfolding of wonder over the course of a year. I cannot yet know all that Dwell will lead me to and through in the coming days.

It’s too soon to give you an event report when I have only now returned my RSVP.

But I can tell you what I hope for.

I hope to be more Mary and less Martha. And to know more of Him, not just more about Him.

I hope to discover rest in the midst of routine life. And magic in ordinary moments.

I hope to have long talks with Him. And to be refreshed in our brief meetings, too.

I hope to listen well. And learn to speak His dialect.

I hope to know what David knew when He sang:

              Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
                     will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
              I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
                    my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2)

 

If you are interested in meeting others who have selected One Word for 2015, head over to the One Word Link-up. Fellow One Word bloggers, please add your reveal post here so I can meet with and pray for you throughout the year.

If you are interested in my Words from previous years, check out these links … 2014: Grace; 2013: Fullness; 2012: Float; 2011: Courage

Peace for those with Empty Arms (Unforced Rhythms Linkup)

peace-1024x682(pp_w579_h385)Empty arms carry some of the heaviest weight.

Maybe it’s Distance. Divorce. Depression. Deployment. Death.

A relationship unreconciled. A wound unhealed. A longing unfulfilled.

Maybe your hole is left from a dream that never came true. Or the one that ended before you were ready.

Oh, my friend, I have been praying for you.

Again and again this advent season, God has brought you to my mind.

You with the empty arms. The ones that feel especially vacant in this time of joy and celebration and light. I hear your soul’s songs of lament even among the 24-hour broadcasting of reindeer songs and snowman tunes. I see you standing timidly with your single candle of hope while it feels like the rest of the world is fully embracing multi-colored bulbs and twinkle lights.

And I have been holding you closer to heaven, dear one. Asking God to be extra close to your tender heart. Begging Him to show up for you in expected places this Christmas. Praying that you will taste of His love for you in new ways.

And that you will have peace. Oh, how I have been praying for your spirit to have peace.

For your soul to sit in stillness, acknowledging every ounce of your sadness, crying every necessary tear. But knowing, deeply knowing, that you are held.

You and your empty arms are embraced so very tightly in His.

Now. Always.

May you know it. May you feel it.

Now. Always.

***************

HEY, BETH... Where are the links!?! HEY, FRIENDS... Over HERE!


“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
(Matthew 11:28-30, The Message)

The wonderful Kelli Woodford (Chronicles of Grace) was inspired by these verses to name a Weekly Web Gathering of grace as “Unforced Rhythms.” She is taking a well-deserved blogging break in December, but she has graciously let me borrow the UR link-up community for the next few weeks. Your words are welcome here. So very welcome.

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list… 

(due to technology issues, Linky is not allowing the actual links to show up on my post page… I hope to have this resolved by next week, but please COME OVER HERE to add your link and/or read precious words from my Grace-Filled friends)

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