Harbingers of Spring

On this first full day of spring, I pray your hope is revived by harbingers of God’s goodness and faithfulness.

Definition of harbinger

  1. 1archaic:  a person sent ahead to provide lodgings

  2. 2a:  one that initiates a major change :  a person or thing that originates or helps open up a new activity, method, or technology : pioneer the great legal harbinger of the New Deal revolution — Timea harbinger of nanotechnologythe harbingers of peace to a hitherto distracted … people — David Livingstoneb:  something that foreshadows a future event :  something that gives an anticipatory sign of what is to come robins, crocuses, and other harbingers of spring

In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.  Psalm 5:3 

Ocean, What Ocean?

I’ve long felt it necessary to be sufficiently hard-nosed in order to survive psychologically through life but something inside tells me that sensitivity is just as important. Without it, without empathy, the world would be an impossibly harsh place. ” – Paul Fischer


Paul is a Londoner now living in Croatia. I am a lifelong American. You, as a reader of this blog, join others from a hundred countries on six continents. At a glance it seems the greater our geographical and cultural divide, the less likely any of us would relate. But life, and how we cope with it, is often a challenge for us all. Supposing there are others in varied states of misery who might like some company, Paul and I are letting you eavesdrop on our recent exchange of emails: 

Hi Cindi,

You are an irreplaceable friend, Paul. And an excellent writer. I think your words should be shared with as many people as possible; surely many people would identify and feel less alone, knowing someone out there feels the same.


Maybe our emails would fit nicely into your blog, one wounded heart comforted by another – across the oceans and across the widest of theological divides.
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DSCN2154.jpg length crop for blog
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So we did just that, as evidence that coping with life is a universal challenge. Though it may not seem so, you’re not the only one with the thoughts or emotions you have — someone somewhere is experiencing the same. I propose that when you’ve sufficiently recovered from whatever has knocked you down, you get back out there in this world we share and overcome evil with good — one day at a time, one deed at a time, one soul at a time — across the oceans and widest of divides.

Spring Is Coming

When your memories are greater than your dreams, you’ve already begun to die. – Eugene May

A mindset doesn’t happen accidentally. It takes a conscious effort to view today as temporal, and stay hopeful for tomorrow.

The present can be overwhelming, a metaphorical season of drought, harsh winter, or severe flooding. You might find yourself hampered by frustrating or debilitating conditions.

Or, maybe you were overcome by your yesterdays. Cumulative trauma, failures, tragedies, or injustices had an affect on your outlook. Bad events outnumbered the good, enough to induce an expectation of more bad ahead. Sometime during all that hardship, your dreams were buried.

It’s understandable that people surrender dreams and default to memories to fill the void. There are few things more excruciating than rallying to try again, to hope again, to end the vicious cycle, only to be met with more disappointment. When dreams cause pain, memories offer solace.

But, When your memories are greater than your dreams, you’ve already begun to die.

breaking-prairie-sod-3536The American pioneers plowed land for a purpose: for food, for survival. It was hard work to break the sod, plant a crop, and keep the plot from reverting to prairie. As long as they worked the land, they improved their odds for an ample harvest. If they quit, the surrounding indigenous plants encroached until the farmed plot succumbed.

It takes work to maintain a healthy mindset, too. If you don’t keep your dreams and hopes for a good future alive, your mind can be overtaken by your past. Instead of forging the best possible future, you can cause your own stagnancy. Instead of being a plowed field able to support a healthy crop, yours can revert to weeds.

Genesis 8:22 (ESV) “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

Keep expecting, so when your drought, flooding, or winter ends — as they always do — your sod is already broken, inertia is overcome, and your momentum is forward.

Keep expecting, so when your spring arrives, you are primed and ready to fully engage in it.

11 See! The winter is past;
    the rains are over and gone.
12 Flowers appear on the earth;
    the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
    is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree forms its early fruit;
    the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling;
    my beautiful one, come with me.

(Song of Songs, 2:11-13, NIV)

 

Silver Lining

First Aid Kit perform ‘My Silver Lining’, the first single off their album ‘Stay Gold’ on the London Southbank for 2014 Latitude in the City.

Lyrics

I don’t want to wait anymore I’m tired of looking for answers
Take me some place where there’s music and there’s laughter
I don’t know if I’m scared of dying but I’m scared of living too fast, too slow
Regret, remorse, hold on, oh no I’ve got to go
There’s no starting over, no new beginnings, time races on
And you’ve just gotta keep on keeping on
Gotta keep on going, looking straight out on the road
Can’t worry ’bout what’s behind you or what’s coming for you further up the road
I try not to hold on to what is gone, I try to do right what is wrong
I try to keep on keeping on
Yeah I just keep on keeping on

I hear a voice calling
Calling out for me
These shackles I’ve made in an attempt to be free
Be it for reason, be it for love
I won’t take the easy road

I’ve woken up in a hotel room, my worries as big as the moon
Having no idea who or what or where I am
Something good comes with the bad
A song’s never just sad
There’s hope, there’s a silver lining
Show me my silver lining
Show me my silver lining

I hear a voice calling
Calling out for me
These shackles I’ve made in an attempt to be free
Be it for reason, be it for love
I won’t take the easy road

I won’t take the easy road
The easy road, the easy road

I won’t take the easy road
The easy road, the easy road

Show me my silver lining, I try to keep on keeping on
Show me my silver lining, I try to keep on keeping on
Show me my silver lining, I try to keep on keeping on
Show me my silver lining, I try to keep on keeping on


To learn more about this talented sister duo from Stockholm, or to purchase their music: http://www.thisisfirstaidkit.com/

Why Try?

Someone I know has had an agonizing time trying to get a family member out of a foreign country. The specifics must be withheld, for good reason. Just know it has been a grueling, potentially life-and-death ordeal based on politics and power.

It’s a case of individuals imploring national government, the small guys rebuffed by powers that be, living conditions prime for contracting diseases, a divide of thousands of miles, travel restrictions, and complicated laws. Add to that finite personal resources of time and finances, and it’s been two long years of herculean efforts going nowhere.

Meanwhile, life must go on, including caring for other family and responsibilities, and when able, attending the same vocation-related meeting I do. Yesterday we were mid-discussion when someone rounded the basement stairway to join us. We looked up to see our friend had arrived.

But it was not just one person standing there …

The wonderful, impossible, beautiful, astonishing, too-good-to-be-true TRUTH of it sank in slowly …

The aforementioned family member caught up in international politics was there, too. At our meeting. They were together. A two-year nightmare was over.

Every second of that realization was unforgettable — they were settled into the empty space next to me long before I absorbed it all. They were living (and touchable!) proof that situations appearing hopeless can change for the good in an instant. And when they do, unspeakable joy is the result. That joy is contagious, too — I sure caught it. I can attest that it is a privilege to know enough of the struggle to appreciate the victory.

Their reunion represented all things right in a world too often wrong. They were examples of why we should all cling to hope, fight for justice and life, ask for help in the difficult battles, and never give up.

Dramatic turnarounds do happen. I witnessed one yesterday, and oh, was it good.

Peace and Hope

Romans 5 (NIV)

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies,we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Keep Dreaming

When your memories are greater than your dreams, you’ve already begun to die. – Eugene May

A mindset doesn’t happen accidentally. It takes a conscious effort to view today as temporal, and stay hopeful for tomorrow.

The present can be overwhelming, a metaphorical season of drought, harsh winter, or severe flooding. You might find yourself hampered by frustrating or debilitating conditions.

Or, maybe you were overcome by your yesterdays. Cumulative trauma, failures, tragedies, or injustices had an affect on your outlook. Bad events outnumbered the good, enough to induce an expectation of more bad ahead. Sometime during all that hardship, your dreams were buried.

It’s understandable that people surrender dreams and default to memories to fill the void. There are few things more excruciating than rallying to try again, to hope again, to end the vicious cycle, only to be met with more disappointment. When dreams cause pain, memories offer solace.

But, When your memories are greater than your dreams, you’ve already begun to die.

breaking-prairie-sod-3536The American pioneers plowed land for a purpose: for food, for survival. It was hard work to break the sod, plant a crop, and keep the plot from reverting to prairie. As long as they worked the land, they improved their odds for an ample harvest. If they quit, the surrounding indigenous plants encroached until the farmed plot succumbed.

It takes work to maintain a healthy mindset, too. If you don’t keep your dreams and hopes for a good future alive, your mind can be overtaken by your past. Instead of forging the best possible future, you can cause your own stagnancy. Instead of being a plowed field able to support a healthy crop, yours can revert to weeds.

Genesis 8:22 (ESV) “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

Keep dreaming, so when your drought, flooding, or winter ends — as they always do — your sod is already broken, inertia is overcome, and your momentum is forward.

Keep dreaming, so when your spring arrives, you are primed and ready to fully engage in it.

From Song of Solomon:

11 See! The winter is past;
    the rains are over and gone.
12 Flowers appear on the earth;
    the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
    is heard in our land.

Personal Landslide

We all know people who don’t want to face the world on a given day. They are tired of being stepped on, and generally sick of the crap of life. Some are overwhelmed by the state of society—”The world is evil; there’s no point; evil is winning”—while some are direct targets of crushing injustice.

In either case, we hear it in their anger. It is evident in their depression. It has become personal. They’re buried under it.

To all those in a state of defeat, worry, frustration, reactive anger, or agony, know that hope is alive somewhere under the rubble. Love is in there too. Faith is recoverable beneath your personal landslide. We hear its life, its breath, its cry for mercy. 

It’s true that corruption and oppression are real, powerful, suffocating, and sometimes deadly. But it hasn’t won. You’re not done breathing. You’re not done with faith, hope, and love. Those three have not flat-lined.

For all those not presently buried, help those who are. It was us yesterday; it could be us tomorrow. Dig to rescue those who are struggling for breath. Shovel the weighty debris off their backs. Get on hands and knees, and push aside the dirt and clay until victims have access to air, to faith, to hope, to love.

Together, let’s resuscitate faith, hope, and love. Those three do remain in people as individuals, and among humanity collectively.

1 Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.