The Brighter Side
It has certainly been the "winter of our discontent..."
Like many of you, I have had my own struggles these past few months as the COVID news has been grim, the shut-downs continue and the political scene has been... well, difficult.
I'm not great at hiding my emotions at times. I'm also not great at being magnanimous and merciful when I'm feeling worried, filled with grief, and angry. I'm a work in progress, and I need Jesus.
But when I step back a bit, I find myself seeing all of these travails and tribulations as a sign of something more.
Mind you, I don't read into them as some sort of prophetic indicator of the end of the world, or harbingers of Armageddon and other wrong-headed apocalyptic notions.
I see them the way that the Apostle Paul saw them in his day. I see them as a sign of new birth, new life... of the arrival of the new things that God is constantly creating all around us, all of the time.
I see them as a reminder that Christ is always arriving, rescuing, restoring, and resurrecting a world that is loved and that God called good from the beginning.
And like the Apostle Paul, I realize that in order for something new to be born, there is often pain and trouble that precede it. Old things have to pass away. Something has to die in order for the new birth of resurrection to be fully realized.
Paul spoke of Christ's ever-arriving presence in the world in the language of childbirth:
We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now, and not only the creation but we ourselves... (Romans 8:22-23)
Sometimes I feel like the only way for us to embrace the new things God is doing in the world is for us to finally and truly surrender to the pain that comes first---to allow it in, and let it do its work. Because it's often the pain of letting go of what was that prepares us for what is to come.
Our senses are sharper because of it. Our awareness is more acute. Our eyes are opened wider.
I was listening to a song by the musical group The Shins yesterday and some of the lyrics caught my ear---lyrics that speak directly to this kind of sharpened awareness:
In the meadow where the black breeze blows
Where underneath the waves, you were most alone
Can you hear a subtle aching tone?
Through the water, through the Earth, trimmed up bone
Looking on the brighter side….
I loved how the song captured the very essence of what Paul was describing---the feelings that we all feel, and see being echoed in the groans of Creation itself.
And that last bit was enough to bring tears to my eyes... "Looking on the brighter side..."
There is a brighter side to be seen through all that we are struggling through. There is a brighter side just beyond the pain we feel---that the whole world feels.
Something new is being born. Christ is arriving once again just in the nick of time just as Christ always does.
We only need to hang on, endure a bit longer, and allow ourselves some defiant hope.
May it be so for you today and every day forward. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.