We are turning the corner away from winter toward spring and I’m waiting for the first smell of honeysuckle and jasmine. It’s a southern springtime marker for me.
Spring pulls us out of our stuffy houses and coats and opens up a lot of life. We throw open our windows and sunroofs, toes and shoulders and watch all that was dead coming to life right before our eyes.
In watching a whole lot of life bloom we, by default, start with a lot of death.
On Wednesday, Saturday, Monday – whatever day – for someone somewhere, even in the midst of spring, there is a covering of wintery death. Death of a loved one, career, pet, relationship, pregnancy. The grief is strong and, for a period of time, it’s hard to know how the world honestly keeps spinning and people are still shopping at Target.
These “little” deaths – as strong as they are at the time – are so useful to the Lord. He takes these grand-picture smaller deaths and shows us how life grows in the midst, how beauty is made from ashes. Death brings life. Springtime to our winter. We can learn a lot by losing something or someone dear then watching the Lord go to resurrection work. It grows faith for the next loss. It helps us trust that nothing is really the end.
But this is hard. Really hard. Perhaps the hardest part of living, ironically.
I visited my counselor recently and he talked about this recent season of life. He referenced Psalm 23 and pointed straight to the “valley of the shadow of death,” the hard parts of life, these days when everything I touch seems to die in my hands. Dark, dark days.
“Don’t worry about pace. Go as slow as you need to. No one goes sprinting through the dark and expects not to stump their toe.”
I am checking my watch. Why the tears, still? Where are the answers? Where is the resolution? Shouldn’t the wound be set? Where’s the life? I’ve had enough of this death. Let’s move on.
I say this at winter’s end too. Where are the flowers? The longer days? The Reese’s eggs? I’m ready to run on.
Today I may shuffle if I need to, barely moving, feeling my way through what I can’t see. I may only have the strength to break off one phone call, or send a couple of emails. Or honestly, some days I may not have it in me to do any of it. But this is true, a shuffle is still moving forward, away from death and into life.
I won’t sprint through the dark. I won’t run hard away from the hard. New life blooms at the Lord’s choosing. The pace will be as slow as it needs to be to fully come alive.