Cold, bright days like today are one of winter's few crowning glories. The warmth of the sun on my face juxtaposed with the crisp, stinging air stirs up a thousand beginnings to stories I could never have the time to write. Today feels like it could give birth to some great adventure. The gray, rainy days of weeks past weigh heavily on the soul, and not just because of the vitamin D deficit. They are a reminder of the heaviness of sin, the fullness of the burden we carry that taints every thought and word and deed like so many muddy footprints in my foyer.
Spring is coming, bringing with it the promise of those wild storms we can get here in the South. California has earthquakes, Florida has hurricanes, but here we have tornadoes. Wild beasts of wind borne of the clash between hot and cold air, they dish out judgment with vengeful fury. The violence and randomness of their destruction inspires a peculiar mix of awe and fear. Most of us will never actually see a tornado, but the paths they leave are unmistakable.
The memory of elementary school tornado drills has been bouncing around my head. I can still remember what it's like crouched up against a wall with hands protecting the neck and trying to shift your weight so your feet don't fall asleep. Mere minutes of practice left me with the sole thought that I'd rather risk dying than spend more time on my knees feeling that dreadful tingling make its way down my legs.
I have been uncommonly short of words lately. Although I'd like to blame it on the work load, a shoulder injury, or traveling with students, I really can't. I just haven't had words, and that does not bode well for the state of my heart. Although I still struggle to find those words, I finally found that the picture of me stuck in tornado drill position portrays exactly how I feel.
Experiencing pain and brokenness in close relationships, losing Smudge, single parenting - a perfect trifecta for emotional retreat. I have been receding from community so slowly, I hardly realized it was happening. But the tingling effects of emotional and spiritual numbness have been working their way up my soul. Actively resisting quiet times is unusual for me, but I've been pushing even God away, despite his overt tenderness and compassion towards my stubborn heart.
Reading 1 Corinthians this morning, I came across this little nugget in verses 37-38:
When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.
February, with its unpredictable weather, its crazy lows and highs ushering in the first hint of spring storms to come, is the month I plant the little dried snap pea seeds in the ground. They'll weather the final frosts of the year with sober dignity, peeping their brave little heads above the soil in early March. My prayers and reading and studying feel like the hard wrinkled edges of that snap pea seed. Worthless and dead, dried and hardened to protect the faintest promise of life. But the promise is there, however lifeless it may seem at the moment. When those tiny buds pop their heads out of the ground into the blustery spring storms, they won't have any more hard edges to protect them from the blasting winds; they'll have something better, a supple grace to not only survive the violent winds of a passing tornado but also in the midst of the chaos to bear the delicate purple blooms that will birth life giving fruit.
So is his promise to me, despot my stubborn resistance:
So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. (1 Corinthians 15:42-44)
My new prayer is to submit to that grace at work in me, to trust the mystery, and give myself over to him who has promised to clothe me with immortality.
1 Corinthians 15:51-58
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”“Where, O death, is your victory?Where, O death, is your sting?”The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.