Monday, April 21, 2008

Going on Faith

I was at the Gideon Media Arts Festival all last week, had an amazing time. Flying into Charlotte on Monday, I was struck by the trees all bursting with leaves. It was like coming into another world, a world of hope for the future.

The conference was in Asheville, a two hour ride inland from Charlotte. Some trees were green, others still bided their time.

I came home to some green grass but still barren trees. I look at them this morning, expecting life. Still waiting but I know it's coming.

My son's family will be here next Saturday. My grandson and I will throw rocks in the stream and begin the process of moving sticks out of the path in the woods. He'll see it as a game--what little boy doesn't love an invitation to hurl sticks.

Sadie will come with us--a young dog, full of joy with no eye to the barren trees. Hope always blooms in kids and dogs, with expectation to what was or what should be. What is is daily bread, and that's all that's needed to jump and play and take joy.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A Nation Forgives

Yesterday was a national holiday in my part of the country.

Opening Day at Fenway Park.

Red Sox Opening Day is always a reason for hope, but until this millennium, was rarely a reason to celebrate. Now we've won 2 World Championships in the past four years, we also have reason to rejoice. Yesterday featured an amazing ceremony, with the unfurling of two world series banners the size of the entire outfield fence. World Series rings were passed out to players and on-field personnel. The usual suspects got the loudest cheers--Ortiz, Ramirez, Papelbon, Lowell, and our newest 'toy' Jacoby Ellsbury.

One surprising recipient of cheers was JD Drew. Drew had a dog of a regular 2007 season but was a hero in the crucial game 7 with the Indians when he had a 1st inning grand slam. He's started this season hot and thus--for now--all is forgiven.

But a larger, more magnaminous act of forgiveness took place yesterday.

In 1986, the Boston Red Sox were on the verge of beating the New York Mets and winning their first world series in 60-odd years when Bill Buckner let a ball go through his legs. My son Dan was nine at the time, and so devastated, he swore he'd never watch the Red Sox again. Dan got over that, but the devastation ran deep throughout the entire Red Sox Nation, and poor Bill Buckner had to move to a small town out west to escape our wrath.

Until 2004, the name Bill Buckner drew groans from Red Sox fans. The scars never healed, the bleeding often resumed, usually pricked by those darn Yankees. The first World Series championship in 86 years began the healing. Last year's championship has made all of Red Sox nation absolutely serene. (Trust me when I say this was a miracle.)

Yesterday, Bill Buckner threw out the first pitch. He came out of the scoreboard and made the long walk to the pitcher's mound. I'm sure that first step was hell...wondering if we would boo and curse or just stand, silent and stunned.

He got a standing ovation that went on and on. He cried as he walked, cried and waved and smiled. A nation was healed, a son returned home, hope delivered as a perfect strike.

The thing wasn't all of us forgiving Bill Buckner.

It was Bill Buckner forgiving us.

Bless him for his courage to come home, where we never should have let him leave. I'm sorry, Bill. Thank you.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Forester Lied

When he started this whole tree-cutting business in the woods, he told me, "Don't worry, I'll clean everything up. We don't waste wood--we use it all. This process leaves the woods healthier than before I began." Just when I'd begun to think I'd imagined the whole conversation, I ran into another abutter whose family rides (or used to ride) their horses in the woods. Apparently, they were told the same thing.

The forester lied.

He's gone, not coming back, and he's left a horrific mess. The paths that were once spectacularly beautiful (see photo...look closely, you'll spot Tasha) are now close to impassable. They're either loaded with downed trees and cut branches, or they're pitted with 2-3 feet deep holes caused by his heavy earth-mover.

It's treacherous for walking, even worse for the horses. My neighbor knows the landowner, and hopes he'll be granted permission to use his bulldozer to clear the paths. The landowner lives out of state, and given that the woods are "landlocked," the only commercial use for them are logging. With the debris left around most of the land, we're not sure how healthy the remaining trees will be.

Okay, I know--not my woods. But I also know I've been a good steward of this beauty, as have my neighbor and the other hikers and horseback riders. (No comment on the occasional 4-wheeler.) The point is, such a tangle of branches, trunks, and mud is chaos, not good foresting.

And to push this beyond a simple whine, I have to consider the forester's work in light of my own walk of faith. It's one thing to cut out obvious sin but it's another to do the hard work of clearing the debris. Those logs (or planks in my eye) are easy to spot, but that tangle of consequences easier to hide or just walk away from.

Now that the forester is gone, I need to sing praises again out in those woods. And let God bless as He will.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Shining Through

I am SAD. Not sad, but a little of that, too. SAD as in Seasonal Affective Disorder.

In other words, I need sunshine to thrive.

I can battle through January and February just fine. The sun is low but when we have snow, it brightens the world. It's March that's tough and April can be a killer. We have had a month of gray days, wet snow and rain. Easter bloomed sunny but bitterly cold. More gray days until finally, this Wednesday, the sun came back. Again, a cold wind made the temperature feel like in the 20s.

This week I spent a few days house-sitting my daughter's new home. She lives near a state park o so I bundled up and went over there, determined to huddle against the wind and soak in some sun. There's a beautiful rock by the water, big enough for three or four people, with a nice slope to lean against.

I lasted three minutes before the wind drove me looking for shelter. I followed the shore of the reservoir until I reached the dam. The spillway was open and the water flowing out was so wonderfully loud and fervent. I found a rock in the shelter of the dam that still got full sun and lay back on it.

I listened to the water flow hard, felt the sun soak into my skin, and felt the darkness lift.

And then I dropped my hand to rub the ear of the dog who wasn't there. I didn't need the dog to be Tasha...there's just something about sun and water that begs for a velvet ear to stroke. And it occurred to me that my desire for the sun is so much the desire for God's radiance; that my love of the rushing water is my love of the Living Water that is Jesus; and that velvet ear that was there for all those years is like the steady companionship of the Holy Spirit.

It's raining again today. But that's okay because you...dear ones, who walk this path with are my velvet ear today.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Filling Tasha's Footsteps

I wonder when I'll stop turning around on my walk and checking for Tasha? Or come into the house through the basement and listen for the click-click of her paws on the floor overhead?

Soon enough because Sadie is coming to take her place. She's bringing her family with her--my son Dan, his wife Jamie, and my 4-year-old grandson.

A double blessing indeed.

I'm already making playdates for Sadie with Maddie. Maddie will be thrilled to have a young dog to frolic with. She watched Tasha grow old and fragile and missed the opportunity to tussle over a stick or go for a swim.

I wonder if Maddie looks over her shoulder, wondering where Tasha has gone?