doesn’t take much
there is one skinny window in my kitchen that i look out a lot. it’s near the coffee gurgler, for starters. and i never start without coffee. not sure i could start without coffee. pretty much the gas to my lawn mower. oh, wait, i don’t have one of those; i have one of those old-fashioned pushing kinds, with the blades that whirl in sharp circles, and spit out the grass from the sides. makes me think of a shortstop with a mouth full of chew.
hmm, but that wasn’t my point in the first place.
so, back to the point.
all right, then.
back to the window.
just outside that ol’ window is my flowerbox, one of the ones i forget to water in summer, and spend the rest of the year–thanks to the disheveled row of dehydrated stubs–being reminded just how guilty i am.
beyond that, though, is a tangle of bushes that i pretend is the woods. oh, sure, if you look up and not down, you can see the brick of the big house next door. you might see the gutters as well. and that might signal your brain, something like this, “psst, this is not the woods. this is suburbia. and you are no more than the length of a stretched-out tall someone away from the people next door.”
but i make sure i look down. i don’t like the noise in my head that tries to shake loose all my cobwebs and gauzy-edged dreams.
far as i care, i am in the woods. and the tall skinny window is that of my fairy-tale cottage, and there in my woods, the seasons and birds muck around in that bramble, close enough that i can keep watch.
so it was, that the difference between monday and tuesday was rather quite something. on monday, i swear, i had nothing but sticks out the window, but tuesday, oh my.
as you can see up above, in that little picture i took just so you could see too, i had the stirrings of life.
now, i admit, it’s not much. and it’s hardly dramatic. why, you could be barreling by and not even notice. not unless that proud little branch with the nubs on the end, and the first sprouts of leaves, reached out and poked you in the eye. said something like, “hey, look, i’m not just a stick anymore.” then, as you cussed and patted your teary old eye, you might notice.
but i–maybe like you–have been on the prowl. i have been combing the earth, hiking the woods. i’ve been down on my knees, practically begging, dear mama earth, please please fork it up. puh-leez give us some sign that all is not lost, and we are not stuck in perpetual whatever this is. not quite winter. sure not spring. a cold mucky preamble that might never get to the story.
so there it was, maybe. the answer to at least one of my prayers. nothing big. just a little green. a little more nub than the day just before.
it was enough, though, for me to stop and to let down my jaw.
and that’s when i made the connection. life is like that, 99 days out of 100. the growth that we’re looking for isn’t dramatic. won’t bang us over the head with its sparkle and fizz. might even be drab, not fuchsia and cobalt and knock-you-down yellow.
sometimes, it’s just a few sweet leaves on the end of a twig on a very old bush. they unfurl. they inhale the light and the sweet notes of warmth that blow every once in a while.
they put forth.
all over again, a life force is tapped. the cycle of birth, of bloom, and of fade, is set back in motion.
we are, all of us, a part of that flow. we grow in barely perceptible bits. we are not like our children, those swift sprouting beings whose legs, i swear, grow in inches, from the time we tuck them in bed till they rise the next morning.
and sometimes it doesn’t take much, just the barest small measure of growing, of quarter-inching toward life, to make all the difference in the whole world.
sometimes the chasm between hope and hopelessness is barely as wide as the breadth of a new blade of grass.
sometimes it comes in measures you might overlook: the deepening red of the cardinal; the early brown push-ups of sprouts through the crust of the earth, the flitting of sparrows with string and fuzz in their beaks, a nest in the making.
sometimes, we, too, start to unfold. forgiveness seeps in where heartache once held its tight grip. the ache in our heart lightens. the words we were groping for, the ones we needed to whisper, out loud, they come to us, at long last.
sometimes, it doesn’t take much.
but there it is, the barely perceptible sign that the thing that we prayed for, the thing that we needed, is coming to life.
now, we keep watch and we wait. and we try to believe. what is good, what is right, what is life, will return.
doesn’t take much.
are you like me drumming your fingers, counting the hours for the full chorus of spring, and all that it stands for? it is indeed the season of hope. and after this here winter, these days of endless gray and chill and forecasts for snow, it comes achingly slow. but while the spring always comes, so too it reminds that all we await, might come as well. what do you yearn for this day? and are there signs out your window of hope?
The planets are in their prescribed orbits, so time keeps flowing along. We do our daily to-dos, and still our hearts ache with longing. But then, while we weren’t looking, something wonderful happened. That’s the key for me. Circulation! Have a good cry over it, pray about it, but for heaven’s sake take bold action. And trust the Lord.
He’s on it.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008 – 12:57 PM
Thank you for reminding us that we are all a part of these living-dying-rebirthing cycles we know as reality, and how good it is to pause and wonder at it all!
I’m going out on a limb here, but then tables are made of such things…
Here in Rwanda, this is the week of commemorating the genocide of 1994. It’s a tough time for people, but I’d love to tell you a story of new life.
A Rwandese friend here began a school for adolescents orphaned by AIDS, or genocide, or anything else. When she started three years ago, a couple of the street kids she worked with used to always talk about going to visit the massacre sites, or about unearthing the graves of their parents. This year when she asked these same young people how they were handling this grieving season, they said that they had sadness, but were too busy studying to go to all the memorial services. Because “I’m going to be a (teacher, doctor, etc.) someday, and I have to prepare for my future!”
This is a little heavy, sorry, but it’s such a huge symbol of despair turned to hope that I hope it lifts your hearts as it does mine. Thanks for letting me bring this to the table.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008 – 01:35 PM
dear beautiful mm, Glory be to the God who brought you–and your stories–here. yes, yes, my friend, bring those stories. bring the heartache and hope. remind us that these truths stretch from the sticks out my window to the horrors of rwanda. never never be afraid a story is too heavy. we’ve got big thick legs on this table. it’s a sturdy one. and if a leg starts to wobble, well, then, we’ve got laps aplenty and hands to hold the darn thing up. you remind us–piercingly–of the power of hope. and how hope comes in so many forms. so often, barely perceptible. is it the eager mind so absorbed now with books that she or he needn’t go scrounge for the bones of her or his father? God bless. bless you for sanctifying this conversation, for raising it up, for reminding all of us. for bringing us your eyes and your ears and your stories. and above all, your heart. and the hearts of those whose stories you bring here. my wee bud of hope out the window looks ever so much more promising now, now that i can relate it to a story that means so much more than mere spring. what you speak of, what you share, is the spring of the soul. and nothing less. God bless you mightily. and, as always, thank you for gracing us all……
Wednesday, April 9, 2008 – 02:01 PM
Thank you for sharing your story of hope and future promise……….i didn’t find it heavy………i found a huge smile form on my face as I read of these gloriously brave teens who have the courage and fortitude to rise above the uglines that could have destroyed their young lives………Thank God for the people who started that school…..i can only imagine how their hearts must dance when they experience the uplifting determination of these children…….I know how mine dances at the thought and i’m experiencing it secondhand and many miles away………
thank you for sharing………….
Wednesday, April 9, 2008 – 09:28 PM
Thank you for holding the people of Rwanda in your hearts! It’s a privilege for me to be a conduit…
Peace be with us all.
Thursday, April 10, 2008 – 12:21 PM
mm, your observations blow me away and make my days much richer. Here I am thinking that one little bud, one little surprise crocus that I didn’t even plant that my daughter found in our yard, one little one morning with patchy sunshine that was actually warm, in fits and starts–that these things were great big huge neon beacons of hope and grace and life and joy. Here I am thinking that, and you give me such a mind-blowing and beautiful picture of hope, real hope, in a place of real despair. Bless those kids! Thanks for your part in the conversation at the table!
We here in Chicago are being teased, and after our patchily actually warm on-and-off morning, I understand we’re supposed to have snow tomorrow. Snow tomorrow. Sigh. But spring will come, it will, it does, always, just as surely as children will always be children in their bouyant hopes. Sometimes they may need a little nudge, a little boost, but I think hope is essentially a defining character of children. These things are inevitabilities. Spring will get here one day. Children will play, work, learn, and themselves BE hope for the future.
Friday, April 11, 2008 – 09:28 PM
This dreary Saturday morning had me getting my coffee and pulling up a chair to the table looking for some small bit of spring and comfort – and finding so much more. I have found the subtle signs spring in the picture of small green buds outside a small window. I have come away with an image of a lone crocus in a yard and am already creating a little story in my head about a little squirrel who last fall carried that bulb around the neighborhood looking for a little girl who would be delighted to find it in the spring. Finally I am privileged to hear of the stirring of dreams and hopes in those young souls in Rawanda. Blessings on our world that would make this gathering possible.
Saturday, April 12, 2008 – 09:08 AM
bless you all on this cold piddly saturday morning, where the gushing through the downspouts and the pit-a-pat on the roof is punctuating everything. then over here i wander and see more chairs pulled up to the table, blessed chairs, wise chairs. i tell you there is something so soothing in finding the slow spooling of stories here. i knew when i came upon mm’s beautiful story the other day that not a word–okay, not another story–from me should get in the way. i just wanted to hold her story out there, for the power it held, for how it would draw all of us in our sweet time. i have come to appreciate the slow trickling here. sometimes we pull up to the table in a gush, of words and story and thought and laughter. and sometimes the power comes in the undercurrent, the deep strong stirring barely perceptible. mm and her story, and all of you coming to it, over the course of days, and not hours, that is the thing that, i hope and pray, makes this a lasting place. your stories matter here, never forget that. the jewels are in the comment, i am only the one who sets out the mugs, gets the coffee on. you pour, and you fill me…..
Saturday, April 12, 2008 – 09:48 AM