Spring is Coming…

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The past few weeks I’ve heard a pretty strong consensus on the spring season…people of all ages are wishing it would come to Ottawa.

Although we marked our kindergarten calendar on March 21st with a ‘First Day of Spring’ sticker…the snow blanketing my car yesterday was doing its best to dampen our excitement. So was the thermometer dropping below zero…and the chilly wind blowing around my furry hood on my Sunday afternoon walk. (Yes, although my friend tells tales of daffodils and tulips in sunny New Jersey…I’m still wearing fur.)

“After winter….then a looong time…then it’s spring.” observed one of my 5 year old students.

And although I have woken to the cheerful chirping of birds on a few hopeful sunny mornings …they seem to have tucked their heads back into their feathers with the disappointment of dropping temperatures.

And life has a way of making me want to tuck my head in like those once cheerful songbirds…and hide from the disappointments. To give in to the bitter winds. To stop hoping for sunnier mornings to greet with song.

I read a quote this morning by Lysa Terkeurst. She was talking about the things of life that get us down…and how we need to open up God’s Word…and “Let Him finish your sentences…let Truth walk before you like a guide on a dark path.”

And the Truth about spring is… “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” Genesis 8:22

It’s coming.

So as I’ve joined in the hopeful chorus that the sun will soon warm the spring air, I remember a chilly fall day when the wind was bitter…bringing with it the falling of the leaves and bare branches. And I remember sitting down and writing the following words…the Hope of spring many months and many snowfalls away…but the Truth of the hidden life inside those branches just as real as the new spring shoots about to arrive on the maple tree outside my window.

The Wind

October 2015

The wind is blowing through the trees,
Branches start swaying, giving in,
Feeling the frosty nip of the breeze,
They can hold on no longer, and soon drop their leaves.

Once warm and balmy, gently moving,
Bringing relief from chill and cold,
Now wind just seeps in every space,
Making us long for sun’s warm embrace.

But in those bare branches, stripped by the wind,
Its cold cruel fingers, derobing their dress,
In limbs empty of color and vibrant beauty,
Reaching up to sky, A deep secret lies.

They whisper to me through the rustle of branches,
“The wind was so strong, We couldn’t hold on,
But we know that although our beauty is gone,
The Life inside us is sure as the dawn.”

The wind can take from us all of our color,
The shade that we offer, relief from the sun,
But the secret we keep deep down in our roots,
Is that when spring arrives there are sure to be shoots.

That life that is dormant for so many months,
With first kiss of sun will awaken and stir,
Bringing sap to each limb, and life to each bud,
And beauty more fresh in the newness of dawn.

And I hear in the message from branches so bare,
‘Don’t fear when the wind blows, don’t give in to despair.
It may shake you and strip you of things you once had,
But the Life that’s inside you is safe and secure.

And the Truth from Romans 8:38 is this…

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the (LIFE GIVING) love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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‘Behold…I make all things NEW.’ Revelation 21:5

 

Waiting in the Woods…

I crunched down the snow-packed trail, following my 4 year old friend Wesley. We wove here and there along the path…stopping to look at animal tracks and other interesting distractions. And to pick up a feathery pine branch and drag it along behind us because…well i’m not sure why…but i guess it was just too interesting to leave alone in the woods.

Then we stopped in a clearing and waited. Wesley stood very still, arm outstretched, bird seed resting on the palm of his mitten.

He stood very, very still.

And waited.

In case you don’t grasp the full weight of those words..maybe you haven’t spent too much time around 4 year olds. But in my daily kindergarten observations…there are not too many moments when ‘very still’ applies to a 4 year old body.

But I watched as he waited with hardly a twitch. And with a flit and a flutter, almost before my eyes registered its landing, a chickadee had come and dined and flew off again to a safer perch. Another one, watching the success of his feathery friend, dove down, and helped himself to the offered delicacies. Wesley was delighted with each visitor, thrilled to see the seeds and nuts disappearing off of his mitten. 20160227_124214

Catching his excitement,  I joined my little friend with an outstretched arm…and I waited. A black capped friend eyed me from his perch in a near by bush, not sure of the safety of this offer. But he took the plunge, encouraging another, and another, to enjoy the offered snack.

It was getting chilly, so we turned around and crunched our way back to the parking lot, leaving the chickadees to trill their thanks as we departed.

What a highlight to an otherwise grey February day!

When was the last time you really stood still? The kind of stillness where a chickadee could rest on your finger?  That moment in the woods reminded me how hard I find it to slow down. To really stop. And even when I’m encouraged to slow down in body by life’s interruptions…a wait in the grocery line…a doctor’s waiting room…my mind continues to race, anxious for things to hurry up, checking the clock, pulling out my phone to keep the minutes from dragging along.

But sometimes we experience things in a whole new way when we really stand still. We can see the charcoal feathers of the chickadee’s black cap up close, and feel the light ‘plop’ of his weight on our finger. We can listen to his song trill in our ears, if only for a moment, and imagine he is thanking us for stopping by with gifts.

I was recently reading the command that Moses gave to the people of Israel as they approached the Red Sea in Exodus 14. They were fearful of what was in front of them, an uncrossable expanse of water…even more fearful of what was behind them…being chased down by the entire Egyptian army, angry at the loss of their slave labor.  If there was ever a time to be anxious…I think Moses and the Israelites  would have had good reason to want to MOVE and DO SOMETHING.
But Moses tells the people…

‘Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord…the Lord will fight for you…and you will hold your peace.’

Stand still…watch and see. Hold your peace.

Watch…as God rolls back the waters of the Red Sea…making dry land appear. Watch…as He fights for His people and defeats the entire Egyptian army with one flick of a rod, and a strong east wind. Watch…and see…the Salvation of the Lord.

And I wonder if that time in the woods with my 4 year old friend Wesley was a whisper to my heart…a reminder to Be Still and wait. To calm my heart anxious for answers..and anxious for action. Wait for God to act on my behalf…on behalf of those I love. Wait for answers. Wait for hope…and healing. Wait for doors to open. Wait for clearer vision.

And be ready to see the seas part…or a chickadee come into view.

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