Thus says the Lord God: If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech; if you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday; then the Lord will guide you always and give you plenty even on the parched land. He will renew your strength, and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails. The ancient ruins shall be rebuilt for your sake, and the foundations from ages past you shall raise up; ‘Repairer of the breach,’ they shall call you, ‘Restorer of ruined homesteads.’ If you hold back your foot on the Sabbath from following your own pursuits on My holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight, and the Lord’s holy day honorable; if you honor it by not following your ways, seeking your own interests, or speaking with malice – then you shall delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will nourish you with the heritage of Jacob, your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
Snow is gently falling outside my window as I write this today. We’ve had a lot of snow. In fact, the branches of the spruce tree in the back yard are bending from the weight of it all. It is going to be a long, long thaw before we see green in our lives again. But it didn’t stop me from seeding vegetables inside, or ordering seeds from my favorite supplier. And there are catalogues for bulbs coming. I’m also thinking about how to reboot my vegetable garden.
But first the snow has to melt. That will take time, and it’s out of my control. Patience and hope.
The way we interact with others is often like winter. Over time, snows fall on our hearts because of pain, because of the way we may have been treated in our past. We may have become accustomed to the way in which we view others, or the way we justify our own actions. We may even have fooled ourselves into thinking we are living our best summer when, in fact, the branches of our trees are bending under the weight of our delusion.
Grace comes when we allow the sunshine of Our Lord to our hearts and lives–but it only transforms us when we allow it to melt the snows of our hearts. Tears come. Tears dry up. Sadness or anger comes. But it also passes, leaving us with bare, warm, fertile ground that we can begin to seed with charity, with hope, with compassion, with an open mind and heart. Then will come the flowers of our faith. Then will we know the beauty of clover that grows to the height of a man, filled with happy bees. Then will we know the brightness of canola, jumping randomly from between blades of grass, smiling brightly to the sun. We will still need to tend, to prune, to cut a path for us to journey on–but the flowers will smile on us. The birds, the insects, the creatures that creep in the warm, loamy, fertile soil will enjoin with us. We will know our closeness with God because God Grows around us, sustains us, gives us rest. For Thou hast settled (us) in hope.