Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Remembering Gives Hope to Perspective

Seasons are not as distinctive in southern California as in other places, but we do have them. We had the rainiest winter since I moved here 6 years ago, and the results have been impressive. We live in a part of the United States where flowers bloom all year, but this year is the bloomiest (my word); the hills are layered in lush green and glorious golds. Looking out from the car window the beauty draws from me the most satisfying sigh of pleasure. Sometimes there are no words to describe how moved I feel by the brilliance of this well quenched bit of earth. Weeks before the calendar declared it, spring arrived in San Diego full force. And during these joyous days I have been involved in a difficult chapter of life: doing something I found unpleasant and stressful.

Some things I find myself involved with have seemed incongruent for the journey I am on. I mean have you ever been required to do something that will take you from point A to point B, but feel all the while like you are heading to point Z? In the midst of leaving what seemed to be a detour, I was challenged by Margaret Silf’s words (The Inner Compass) to: “Take a walk around the field of your life. Notice the blessings, the gifts and the fruitfulness, and give thanks to God for that ‘crop.’” I allowed myself to sit for a long time and remember the blessings, like blossoms, scattered all over the pathway of the life I’ve lived thus far.

In the quiet moments, I sifted through memories starting with my childhood. It was a comforting way to close the door on this current season punctured with anxiety and stress. I was overwhelmed with gratitude as I remembered the many ways God sustained me and enabled me to grow up. The experience pushed forth one of those pleasure-filled sighs absent of adequate words. I found myself sharing a little of this with some women from my church, particularly the more recent decades of going through divorce, single parenting and getting an education. One of the ladies asked how I knew what to do in the midst of it all. I didn’t, not until “my ears heard a voice behind me, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’” (my paraphrase of Isaiah 30:21).

The voice came during an ordinary task of mowing our large yard with a small electric
mower, adequate for the days when I lived in northern California. This required an extra long, orange extension cord from house to mower. I had to stop at the end of each row to flip the cord to the other side so as to not mow over it. Mow a row, flip the cord and mow another. In the midst of all this mowing and flipping I was pouring my heart out to God and asking Him how I was going to do it all: be a good mom, work full-time and go back to school to finish my degree. As I handed up my fears and concerns to Him I was handed back a thread of direction to grab hold, “this is the way,” and it helped me begin pulling free of my anxiety. When I tried to figure it out on my own it was a lot like the Towhee tugging at the Spanish moss on my faded turquoise metal gate. She turned this way and tugged, and then went to the other side and tugged; it was just too tangled for her to loosen even one small piece for nest building. But my heart’s cry to the Father loosened up a place in me so I might know the next step while standing in freshly mown grass.

I could go on for hours telling you all the ways God took care of me in the midst of the pain and brokenness of my life. I still had to go through so many hard things, but He never let it destroy me. Quite the contrary, He strengthened and transformed me. Remembering; it is important to stop and remember. There are places in our lives where we must set up markers for remembering how God carried us through. I needed to remember how He was glorified in those overwhelming and painful days of divorce, to see the trail of blossoms so hope is affirmed in me for this day. I have had a great deal of anxiety about the situation I find myself in; it just might be I need a good electric mower and a long stretch of grass that needs mowing. This memory reminds me He hasn’t forgotten me and He has my life all mapped out; I just need to give it over to Him and grab hold of the thread He hands me to get out of what looks to me a tangled mess.

I hope the Towhee finds the loose threads needed for nest building and no longer wastes time on the Spanish moss tightly wrapped together. While I rest and wait I work on nesting too. Every season brings out the nesting instinct in me, but spring takes it beyond the walls and into the yard where I dig, weed and plant. It is here hope is nurtured.