“…your Father’s good pleasure…”

Wine Barrel Tulips.1Spring is trying its hardest to arrive.  We’ve had days and days of dark, wet, and gloomy, with record snowfall just 20 minutes north of here and avalanches (complete with rescues of stranded snow-shoers) as well as tulips and daffodils poking their lovely heads above the soil.  I have an old wine half-barrel on my patio that is loaded with tulips.  They are struggling with the craziness of bright and sunny days followed by a string of rainy days.  This morning is clear and cold…low 30s…and there is frost everywhere. We have a little Miniature Schnauzer whose name is Chet.  He is so typical of the breed…strong willed, stubborn, and refusing to listen; typical terrier.  He loves to perch on the tops of the cushions of the couch, keeping an eye on the golf course behind the house.  We live on the 14th tee box and when it is full of people, we have to do our best to keep Mr. Chet under control, as he thinks whatever he sees, he is the lord of.  Today was no exception.  He just sat on his perch, growling. I could not see anything out there that would make him growl, and was thinking that perhaps it was a left-over emotion.  Last week, we had a scare with him.  I had my cup of coffee; it was about 7:00 am and Chet was outside on his tether, doing his morning rounds. All-of-a-sudden I heard him yelping. I scrambled outside and at the base of our porch stairs was a coyote, with Chet in his mouth.  I yelled and the coyote dropped Chet, who was whimpering and running towards me.  That darn coyote stood under the copse of trees that front the 14th tee and just stared at me, almost daring me to go after him. Instead, I just yelled and waved my arms and he ran off.  By then, I had a shaking, wet, terrified little terrier in my arms.  This morning, however, his growl broke into barks and I raced to check out what had invaded his line of sight, and it was a little bunny!  She’d been nibbling on my budding tulips and was hopping off the patio and out onto the golf course.  Chet was having none of it and was barking his head off, shaking from head to toe.  Boy oh boy, did he want out on that patio.  I corralled him and we came to the other side of the house, where I have my office, and he is comfortably ensconced in his favorite spot.

Chet on Couch

This morning is so quiet and peaceful and I treasure mornings like this!  The birds are chirping and the sun is shining (even though there are black clouds to the east and the north) and little bunnies are hopping outside. It feels so wonderful.  And then I see the chaos all around me as we finalize this move of ours.  My stomach clenches and I realize I need to gird my loins for another day of wrapping our lives up into crates and boxes, making all sorts of annoying changes that are required when you move across town or across states.  And even the peace of a spring morning can be darkened a little bit.

Yesterday was an awful day for America, with the bombing in Boston. I wonder if it is terrorists or someone wanting their 15-minutes-of-fame.  Regardless of the reasons or the perpetrator, people were killed (memory eternal) and others are in critical condition, while still others are coping with horrific injuries they will have to learn to live with.  Life can take such turns in such a quick space of time. This was intended to hurt, not destroy.  The coyote who grabbed my dog is emblematic of the terror that gripped these people.  Feeling powerless and overcome by something bigger and stronger than you is a horrible feeling.  I was so proud, however, to see how everyone reacted.  So many did not run away; instead they turned to help those around them.  So many first responders sprang into action.  Boston was heroic yesterday and it made me realize that deep down, we are made in the image and likeness of God and it showed.  Blessings upon blessings to those who rushed to serve others, with no regard for their own safety.

It is amazing to me that tulips will be coming up, daffodils will be blooming, and there is a bomb.  There is bright sunshine and on the horizon are the blackest of clouds.  Our life is a dichotomy of light and dark, good and bad, spring and deepest winter.  We have our days that are blessed and we cling to those times.  We have our darkest and most horrid days, and for those days, we look for the heroic around us, seeking the sign that God is present in His people.

Fred Rogers QuoteI do love that quote of Mr. Rogers, because it exemplifies the struggle I am speaking to this morning.  Working through the horrible right alongside the blessed.  Our path to God is strewn with experience…some of the experiences lead us off the path He has laid for us, because we get caught up and lose our way.  Some experiences help us to dig deeper and prepare our hearts to follow the path God prepares for us.  He never has our destruction in mind, but always what is best for us.  We are the ones who deviate and get lost.

This experience for me, of a joyful spring morning juxtaposed with the dark clouds on the horizon; a barking little dog with the cute little cotton-tailed bunny hopping across the patio; the peace of waking to sunshine and birds chirping and the chaos of the move I am trying not to trip over!  Then there is the joy in my heart at all my blessings compared to the disturbing, ongoing news about Boston…how do we reconcile all of this?  I cling steadfastly to the promises of God.  He warned me that He came to divide, not unite. (Luke 12:49-51) and that He came to cast fire upon the earth (Luke 12:49).  But in this same chapter of Luke, He tells us to not be afraid (Luke 12: 22-31).  He calls us His little flock and assures us “it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12: 32-34).  And to these promises, I cling.  I treasure the moments of peace and clarity. I notice the birds and the flowers, those moments when God is sharing creation with me.  Those moments sustain us when the coyotes growl at the door and the bombs rip through a peaceful jog.  God allows us to experience these things to bring us strength of conviction.  Those responders ran into the fray to assist those who were suffering. God allowed their heroics to be noticed and appreciated, thereby strengthening us all.  We know that when the going get tough, we are called upon to be stronger and it is like exercising our free will….with repetition comes strength…by repeatedly aligning our free will with the Will of God, our faith is strengthened and we find peace.

St. Isaac the Syrian5