Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Lesson from Pansies

In Eddie's Wake, Karl receives valentines from the girls in his class who befriended him after his pals, Jimmy and Elmer had deserted him. But he also receives a really nice storebought card that had pansies on the cover, with the words, Pansies for Thoughts. It was from Jimmy and Elmer, who wrote on the back, We still think you're a pansey, Stern... Karl laughed at the card from his stupid former friends; he'd given up on them and could see how childish they were. But deep down, I think he was hurt, too.

This is the season for pansies in my garden. It's cool enough that they grow nicely and stay compact; not like the way they will bolt and grow crazy once it gets hot. Then I will sadly pull them out and wonder if there is a greenhouse around where I can buy pansies to plant in the fall. (Maybe I should start my own from seed...)

The fun thing about these flowers, though, is that they reseed themselves and sometimes come back the following spring. So when I cut off the spent blooms during the growing season, I don't throw the flowers in with the compost. I either leave them in the garden or scatter them at the edge of the lawn.

My grandmother loved pansies, and I think I inherited that from her. I try to plant some every year. Once, when I had a patch by the back door of our house, I noticed the deep, deep purple that colored the inside of one of these sweeties... and I thought, "Ok, God, just how do you do that? Where do you get that color?"

That was a long time ago, in a diffferent place and time and life. But I just noticed the same thing the other day. The rich, deep purples and blues just blow me away; it's like you could fall into the color of eternity if you stared at it long enough. How can anyone walk by without noticing?

Despite whatever junk is going on in my life - and often there's plenty - God can still bring forth something amazing like a pansey, with all it's regal, velvety color. It puts things in perspective, somehow. God hasn't given up on us, on me. The Creator is still creating. I think the adjective is steadfast.
Until next time...

Saturday, April 3, 2010

"Now the Green Blade Rises..."

Two weeks ago, we burned "the Triangle," a patch of field bordered on two sides by driveways (both of them ours) and one side by the town road we live on. We intended to do a burn, as we do every couple of years to give our expanding collection of prairie wild flowers a head start in the race against the weeds and grasses. But this year things got exciting when the fire went faster than anyone expected.

But nothing that wasn't supposed to burn burned, and we had a big black patch between our driveway and the yet-to-be-planted corn field. Over the last few days, however, green has returned little by little. Yesterday it rained, and now the whole patch is kelly green; the charred grasses from last year are nearly swallowed up by new life. (The photos above are sort of "before" and "after.") This just about always happens when there is a grass fire, but it still seems like a miracle to me. Green returns, in spite of what we do.

The windows in our church santuary were covered with black sheer-ish curtains for Holy Thursday and Good Friday. All decoration had been removed from the church, and last night the environment was spare and grim, as you might expect. Some of the windows face west, and on a good evening you can watch spectacular sunsets from your seat in the church. Too beautiful, too distracting for Good Friday, indeed, so the windows had to be covered.

But last night, as the service went on, the sunset was so bright that you could still see it through the curtains. Dark a day as yesterday was, though, the darkness of failure, despair and death could not hide the beauty and brightness of the setting sun. Darkness is swallowed up by light in spite of what we try to do!

It's too late for me to be up writing this; the sun rises tomorrow at 6:49am and I will be with other believers at our outdoor sunrise service, celebrating the truth that the Light of the Risen Christ always trumps the darkness.

And not just the darkness of night, the darkness of failure, of confusion or despair... but the darkness of death. Death now becomes the portal to life eternal, where there is always light... where there is nothing but peace and joy.

So, even with the hard things in our lives, the sad things, the irritating things, we are bold to proclaim: "Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, alleluia."