Storms tore through our area over the weekend. High winds whipped the trees and all night we heard the cracking of their huge trunks as they bent this way and that. Rain pounded the windows as we watched for the tornadoes coming up from the south.
Palm Sunday. Brilliant sunshine shone over the new grass shimmering green. Trees are in full bloom. The storm is over. At church we heard the best sermon ever on Romans 3. We ran errands afterwards, just enjoying our tasks and being together as a family. In the afternoon Fred did what he loves most--puttering around the yard. He played in his shed with all his "toys." He rode his mower around. I told the girls no TV, no computer this day. So they spent hours outside making chalk designs in the driveway. And I did what relaxes me the most and relieves my stress--sewing! In the quiet of my little basement room I can think and relax as I work my fingers in the fabric and listen to the whir of my sewing machine. At one point my friend in the hospital called and we had a nice long conversation and even a few laughs. She is an amazing, courageous woman traveling this scary journey. The storm clouds scattered away momentarily to let us glimpse the sunshine.
Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Liana and I were discussing this because these two words were on her spelling list. An optimist has the expectation that in a given circumstance, good will result. This is not bad, and I would say I am an optimist. But this thinking can often lead to disappointment because sometimes, in a practical sense, good does not result. Hope, in the spiritual sense, is different. It has nothing to do with circumstance or results. It is a confident expectation that God is in control and has purpose in our experiences. Here is the Biblical definition:
"And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has been given us." Romans 5:2-5.
I read that early medieval monks would greet each other in the hallways by saying, "Remember your mortality." We pretend that every sickness will be healed and that we will never have our lives threatened. We are horrified when the results are different. This quote made me think:
"Death unaddressed is the bogeyman in the basement. It keeps us looking over our shoulders and holds us back from entering joyously into the days we are given. But death dragged out from the shadows and held up to the light of the gospel not only loses its sting, it becomes an essential reminder to wisely use the life we have.
When we remember the mortality of those around us, they become more valuable to us. Madeleine L'Engle once noted that when people die, it is the sins of omission, rather than commission, that haunt us...And remembering our own mortality helps reorder our priorities; a race toward a finish line has a different sense of purpose and urgency than a jog around the block." Carolyn Arends