Tulips are blooming, all over town and in my very own yard. Redbuds are popping, the magnolias are magnificent, and Japanese maples are putting out their crinkly leaves. What do they say? Are we listening?
All that you have made gives thanks to you, Lord….
They speak of the glory of your kingdom…
to inform all human beings about God’s power
and the majestic glory of God’s kingdom. Psalm 145:10-12 (CEB)
My strawberries are flowering, promising sweet morsels to come, even as I indulge in a May Day neighborhood breakfast of California berries, shortcake, and cream. Each bloom opens heavenward in thanks. Reminding us- whispering and shouting, if only we can hear it- of the majestic glory of God’s kingdom. Right here. Right now.
As the day unfolds, the ups and downs of our human existence clang louder than the beauty of the morning. Success and failure. Connection and isolation. Faith and doubt. Hope and fear. In one day. In one month, one year, one life. The pendulum sometimes swings wildly, other times shifts almost imperceptibly.
I read of Paul’s travels. Not like the travels of my breakfast companions- young retirees with family spread across the world. One minute, Barnabas and Paul are brought bulls and wreaths and lauded as gods. Then crowd voices shift, and Paul is stoned, dragged from the city, and left for dead. (Acts 14)
Perhaps these vagaries of public opinion feel familiar. Some days they love your work; you are a rising star, everyone applauds. Then your opinion becomes useless or dangerous; they’d like you to move on to the next town. Where is our stability and strength? When the trees are bare in winter, do we hear them speaking?
In a little book on our basement shelves, the conversion story of “Brother Lawrence” is foreign to me, the witness of nature changing the course of his life:
…the mere sight on a midwinter day of a dry and leafless tree standing gaunt against the snow; it stirred deep thoughts within him of the change the coming spring would bring. From that moment on he grew and waxed strong in the knowledge and love and favor of God, endeavoring constantly, as he put it, “to walk as in His presence.” The Practice of the Presence of God, p.12
I am not sure what to do with this story. Only to hold it in one hand as I practice pausing to listen to the song of spring. We are so caught up in our activities. Necessarily. Perhaps. Leaving us anxious. Worried. Unsettled. The variations of sun and cloud play with our moods and perceptions. Dandelions seed the neighborhood, and weeds race for bare ground.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” John 14:27 (NRSV)
We need peace. Not of this world. The peace that Jesus knew. That persists amid clamoring, conflicting opinions. Despite fame or failure. In relentless clouds and on clear blue days. Whether the crowd loves or hates. When our loved ones have gone to be with the Father, and it is hard to be happy for them, because we miss them so. In the midst of trouble and fear, our hearts can be disquieted.
May we hear the voices of the barren trees now blooming. Of daffodils and dandelions. Of Jesus speaking peace. All because they love the Father. Each living into the Father’s commandments. May we know that love, and feel that peace.