Tuesday, April 2
Lessons from the Lawn
At this in-between time of year, winter yawning and dozing a bit, I feel like each morning we get a little less black-and-white and a little more color and contrast, light and shadow. And on this day, a little bit of rain.
The other morning I woke up, pulled the down comforter close to my heart and said, "I want it to rain." It doesn't rain here often. Today it came, soft and lingering.
The lawns in our fifty-year-old neighborhood are greening up again. Fifty years of dying and resuscitating. I've lived in places where lawns never die, but here facing scarcity and chill the ugliest part of the year makes it all expire until out from under a spring snow dormant life surprises us. This grass knows that the best life comes after death. It knows because it has experienced it before.
I continue to contemplate simplicity, finishing my Lenten book this morning along with my journaled notes and responses. A quote from Richard Foster ended all the thoughts and practices within: Simplicity is just another anxiety-laden burden until people have experienced God's gracious power to provide them with daily bread.
Until those words I'd considered teaching this discipline to some friends, showing them the fullness of less. But simplicity isn't the first step. Maybe not even the fifth. There is a precedent of love and trust that must be firmly established lest we go into it afraid that the much-more God "is forcing us to live a 'much less' life" (p. 155). Love and trust comes with toil and struggle. With the letting go of the expectations and the well-marked path sight can come rushing in. It might just be a glimpse of his back. But it is enough.
And when we can finally see through to enough, we can let go of more and receive more. Experiencing the truest, most essential, belly-centered core of enough is the key to beginning in simplicity. I wish I could show it to everyone, but first things first.
I nodded my head in understanding. I've had the daily bread seasons -- days of, "Just give me breath." And there was food and paid bills and community while I breathed. There was soil to grow in and sun to push me on. He was making us new in that dormant time. And when the soil warmed enough it was time to really grow and newly reproduce some fruit. Gracious power, indeed.
Now that I know, now that I seek his heart more than his hands, I can step into the simple. Could this be true for all the disciplines? Once I know that the word is life-giving and true where it purports to be true I can invest myself to study it for transformation? Once I've become convinced that the Father hears and answers then I can engage in prayer that matches his heart and his name? Once I'm convinced that those who worship in spirit and in truth honor the Creator and it's the very least I can do in response, then my heart is open to the worship experience?
What about the disciplines of abstinence? Will I consider fasting a burden until I've tasted his enough? Will I grind my teeth through solitude unless I've walked with him at length? Will I ever practice submission unless I've held the hand of the Good Shepherd over a landscape of time?
I have to agree. The hard brings the light. The wait brings the joy. The cry brings the hope. And then we can press further up and further in with discipline and love. It's counter intuitive. But all of nature knows it to be true and she's gracious enough to show us again, and again, and again.