Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Winter is over!

I used to hate winter. I plodded through with a cold gloom over my soul. But life becomes more wondrous the older I get, and through my daughters' eyes, every season is magical. After the hustle of Christmas, we longed for the time to hibernate. We played marathon board games and sorted through scrapbook pictures and sewed doll clothes. I loved opening the heavy iron doors of our woodstove and piling another log on the red coals. We roasted marshmallows and hot dogs and the girls cheered in delight anytime a flake of snow fell from the sky. Then we shoveled that snow until our hands and feet were numb and we built wobbly snowmen. I watched the girls disappear into the woods when Fred took them on hiking adventures and made hot chocolate for their return. These cold months Liana learned to read and Arielle studied adverbs and decimals in our cozy cave of a classroom.

The birds came back from wherever they winter to roost again in the bamboo grove, pests that they are. Spring was late in coming, but even during an unexpected ice storm we heard the birds chattering among themselves and knew warm days were coming soon. We burned the last log and celebrated our first bowl of ice cream out on the deck. The pussywillow swelled and dropped its fuzzy bundles. We carried the furniture from the shed, and the balls and bikes came out. The girls now sit high up in their fort on top of the swingset for hours, or they play hopscotch on the chalk drawings in the driveway. School is now a chore to endure until they are released to run through the grassy yard.

In comforting predictability the seasons of the year cycle around. Not so the seasons of our lives. These days will never come again. In regret, I think of years not fully lived, discounted or dismissed. Years with my little boys that passed so quickly, never to be recaptured. Fred jokingly told our ancient cat, "This may be your last summer!" Some summer will be my last--and yours. Each season, each day, is a gift. Enjoy!

"So teach us to number our days, that we may present to you a heart of wisdom...let the favor of the Lord be upon us; and give permanence to the work of our hands." Psalm 90:12, 17.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Unnamed Saturday

In the frantic pace of life, it's all too easy to push ahead, never finding time for reflection or connection, much less actual communion with God. I so much wanted to touch Jesus this week, but I seem to be in an elliptical orbit around the Son, too often at the far end.

We planned to go to church the Thursday before Easter, but it didn't work out. That whole cold, windy, snowy day, I felt as if a black cloud had descended. Maybe we would do our own little remembrance at home, to at least make the occasion meaningful to the girls. So we read scripture by candlelight, improvised communion with a rice cracker and pomegranate juice and even washed each other's feet. We tried singing a hymn, Fred and I terribly off-key. Arielle loved this particular song but had never heard it before, so she wondered what it would sound like if sung properly. She told me her brother Dominic knew how to play songs on the internet, so couldn't we try to find it?

We searched and couldn't find a good version of this song, but we found many others. For the next hour we watched youtube and joined with others in singing songs of worship. A far cry from the reverent setting of the church? Not at all. As we sat in front of the computer and I heard my daughters' lovely, sweet voices raised in praise to God, I don't think even the angels in heaven could sound more beautiful. Then it happened--peace. Quiet and gentle as a whisper, peace beyond comprehension dispersed the dark cloud. Jesus came close, like a shooting star piercing through human experience, and we all caught a glimpse of him.

Arielle earlier pointed out that we have names for particular days of this season--Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter. She said, "What about Saturday? What's that day called?" The nameless Saturday, wedged between the sorrow of death and the joy of resurrection. We live between what Jesus accomplished on the cross and the hope of heaven one day. We see the suffering in the world, the violence, wars, devastating disease and rampant evil. Like Jesus' disciples after he died, we run and hide, lock our doors and hope that evil will not find us. We long for Sunday.

Jesus could have conquered the world the day he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, but instead he chose to die. The Father watched as his son was arrested, beaten and murdered. God's restraint in such a tragic world doesn't make sense at times. Why doesn't he intervene more in this mess we humans have made? Is Jesus the kind of King we want? Wouldn't a magic genie-type be more desirable?

"We live on Saturday, the day with no name. What the disciples experienced in small scale--three days, in grief over one man who had died on a cross--we now live through on a cosmic scale. Human history grinds on, between the time of promise and fulfillment...It's Saturday on planet earth; will Sunday ever come? That dark, Golgothan Friday can only be called Good because of what happened on Easter Sunday, day which gives a tantalizing clue to the riddle of the universe. Easter opened up a crack in a universe winding down toward entropy and decay, sealing the promise that someday God will enlarge the miracle of Easter to cosmic scale." (Philip Yancey in The Jesus I Never Knew.)

In the meantime, I rejoice to know Jesus is close enough to reach out and touch. It's enough for now. I wait with unshakeable faith for the day all mysteries will be solved.