Polished Stones…

PLUM2G

I woke up this morning with a U2 song in my head. I was particularly struck by the line, “The sea throws rocks together but time, leaves us polished stones.” As I look at stones collected from a local beach over the past number of years, I love how all the stones, of different shapes, sizes and colors, share a smooth texture. Sometimes I wonder from where each stone may have originated. How far did each one travel along its journey from out in the deep ocean to the sands of the beach? The stones, no matter where they came from or how they started out, all came to be smooth by being tossed about in the sea.

It is interesting how in the same way that the friction caused by water against stone and stone against stone has smoothed the edges over time, adversity can smooth our edges. Adversity can lead to growth.

It seems human nature to prefer the moments of smooth sailing, keeping quiet and avoiding potential conflict. However, as I reflect, it seems like so much more growth comes from moments of standing in the ocean and moving with the waves as they ebb and flow, as they rise and fall with the tide, and crash around during storm surges. Carrying hope in my heart and a desire to be all that I can be (and all that I was created to be) deep within my soul, I am able to own who I am. With each wave, through God’s grace and with openness and acceptance, the jagged edges are smoothed away. I am made new.

“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching…” – Ephesians 4:14

Ordinary Love by U2

The sea wants to kiss the golden shore.
The sunlight warms your skin.
All the beauty that’s been lost before, wants to find us again.
I can’t fight you anymore; it’s you I’m fighting for.
The sea throws rocks together but time, leaves us polished stones.

We can’t fall any further if, we can’t feel ordinary love.
And we cannot reach any higher, if we can’t deal with ordinary love.

Birds fly high in the summer sky and rest on the breeze.
The same wind will take care of you and I, we’ll build our house in the trees.
Your heart is on my sleeve, did you put it there with a magic marker.
For years I would believe, that the world, couldn’t wash it away.

Cause we can’t fall any further if, we can’t feel ordinary love.
And we cannot reach any higher, if we can’t deal with ordinary love.

Are we tough enough, for ordinary love?

We can’t fall any further if, we can’t feel ordinary love.
And we cannot reach any higher, if we can’t deal with ordinary love.

Are we tough enough, for ordinary love?
Are we tough enough, for ordinary love?
Are we tough enough, for ordinary love?

Blossoming Day by Day…

“Where flowers bloom, so does hope” – Lady Bird Johnson

About a week ago, I received a gift of flowers—pink, red and white tulips. When I first opened the box in which they were delivered, the tulips were cold and the petals closed like a clenched fist, but still beautiful. After cutting the end of each stem at an angle, I placed the tulips in a glass vase with plant food and some water. I continued to add water as needed and in the warmth of my home, the petals loosened over the course of the week. Each flower transitioned from being fully closed to being in a state of full bloom; different then when they first arrived…even more beautiful.

Thinking back over the course of the past week, it strikes me that the tulips needed much more water in the first day or two than they did in the days beyond that. I remember at times looking at the flowers and the vase, and feeling surprised that more water was needed again. In fact, I think I added water 2-3 times in those first couple of days.

As I sit facing what are now fully opened tulips, I think about the work required to get to this point. I needed to continue to add water to the vase while the flowers needed to continue to take the water in. There was collaboration. Both things needed to occur in order for the tulips to fully open.

Overall, one might say that the environment needed to be conducive to growth. That is, there needed to be give and take, and room for change…inside (the vase) as well as outside. It is not really all that much different from human relationships. When the environment is conducive, it is much easier to work together, to give and take, and to allow room for change in a manner in which all may flourish.

TulipsFeb

Between the Lines…

BetweenLines

During the winter months, some animals hibernate, some migrate, and others adapt. All animals, whether of the hibernating, migrating or adapting kind, need to prepare for the change of seasons. What remains constant year-round, though, is the need for energy. Even the hibernating animals need energy throughout their deep sleep.

On what is a very cold day, on which a deep sleep can be very tempting, as I catch up with news from throughout the week, I find myself pondering the things that are written (and spoken). From where do these things come? What is the source?

It is written… (Luke 4).

As I reflect on the happenings of the week, I wonder, “Written by whom?” and “For what purpose?” Not only that but, “What led to ‘it’ being written?” There are so many questions one could ask and so many possible ways of answering them, but at the end of the day, the most important questions seem to be, “Who is being served by the questions? Who is being served by the answers? How is that which is written being used?”

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan
and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days,
to be tempted by the devil.
He ate nothing during those days,
and when they were over he was hungry.
The devil said to him,
“If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”
Jesus answered him,
“It is written, One does not live on bread alone.
Then he took him up and showed him
all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant.
The devil said to him,
“I shall give to you all this power and glory;
for it has been handed over to me,
and I may give it to whomever I wish.
All this will be yours, if you worship me.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“It is written: You shall worship the Lord, your God,
and him alone shall you serve.

Then he led him to Jerusalem,
made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him,
“If you are the Son of God,
throw yourself down from here, for it is written:
He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,
and:
With their hands they will support you,
lest you dash your foot against a stone.

Jesus said to him in reply,
“It also says,
You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.
When the devil had finished every temptation,
he departed from him for a time. – Luke 4:1-13

The Choice Is Ours…

ChoiceIsOurs

From the snow covered branches to the rumble of snowplows, the hum of snow blowers and the sound of shovels against the ground. From the people driving or operating machines or shoveling to those simply playing in the winter wonderland. From those readying a place for loved ones returning from outdoors to those who are simply gazing in awe of the beauty that abounds…and, to all those in between, Alleluia!

Be it rain or snow or a storm of another kind, there is something so pure…so quiet…after a storm. There is something so precious in the time that follows the pouring down…and sometimes out and all around. Looking out the window after a recent snowstorm, I am struck by the way that everything is right in front of us, and the choice is ours.

While the storm may have caused almost all activity to come to a halt, it also washes clean (or white) for at least a little while. Then, it is time to clean up. Moved to work together, we help each other to restore the roads and the walkways so that once again they are open and safe for travel to and from.

Again, it seems that everything is right in front of us and the choice is ours.

A Boiled Seed Cannot Sprout – Author Unknown

An aging king woke up one day acutely aware of his own mortality.  He had no son, and his was a culture where only a male heir could take his place.

He decided that he would adopt a son who then could take his place, but he insisted that such an adopted son must be extraordinary in every sense of the word.  He considered each of his advisors and relatives in turn, but found them wanting.

So he launched a competition in his kingdom, open to all boys, no matter what their background. Ten boys made it to the very top. There was little to separate these boys in terms of intelligence and physical attributes and capabilities.

The king said to them, ‘I have one last test and whoever comes top will become my adopted son and heir to my throne.’ Then he said, ‘This kingdom depends solely on agriculture, so the king must know how to cultivate plants.  Here are seven seeds of grain for each of you. Take them home.  Plant and nurture them for six weeks. At the end of six weeks, we shall see who has done the best job of cultivating the grain.  That person will be my son and my heir. ‘

The boys took their seeds and hurried home.  Each got a pot, prepared soil, and sowed his seeds. There was much excitement in the kingdom as the people waited to see who was destined to be their next king.

In one home, the boy and his parents were almost heartbroken when the days stretched into weeks and the seeds failed to sprout. The boy did not know what had gone wrong. He had selected the soil carefully, he had applied the right quantity and type of fertilizer, he had been very dutiful in watering it at the right intervals, he had even prayed over it day and night and yet his seeds had turned out to be unproductive.

Some of his friends advised him to go and buy seed from the market and plant that. ‘After all,’ they said, ‘how can anyone tell seeds of grain one from another?’

But his parents who had always taught him the value of integrity reminded him that if the king wanted them to plant just any grain, he would have asked them to go for their own seed. ‘If you take anything different from what the king gave you that would be dishonest. Maybe we are not destined for the throne.  If so, let it be, but don’t be found to have deceived the king,’ they told him.

The appointed day came and the boys returned to the palace each of them proudly exhibiting a pot of healthy seedlings. It was obvious that the other nine boys had had great success with their seeds. The king began making his way down the line of eager boys and asked each of them, ‘Is this what came out of the seeds I gave you?’ And each boy responded, ‘Yes, your majesty.’ And the king would nod and move down the line.

The king finally got to the last boy in the line-up. The boy was shaking. He feared that the king might have him thrown into prison for wasting his seeds. ‘What did you do with the seeds I gave you?’ the king asked.

‘I planted them and cared for them diligently, Your Majesty, but alas they failed to sprout,’ the boy said.  He hung his head in shame, and the crowd jeered.

But the king raised his hands and signaled for silence. Then he said, ‘My people behold your next king.’

The people were confused. ‘Why that one?’ many asked.’ How can he be the right choice?’

The king took his place on his throne with the boy by his side and said, ‘I gave these boys boiled seeds. This test was not for cultivating grain.  It was a test of character; a test of integrity. It was the ultimate test.  If a king must have one quality, it must be that he should be above dishonesty. Only this boy passed the test. A boiled seed cannot sprout.’