Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My hope index is up today, brought on by spring. A few days of temperatures in the 60's and 70's, a bit of time spent clearing the dead leaves out of the garden beds and planting the first of my lemon balm--ah, life begins anew. With it my allergies soar, my sinuses fill, and I have a headache which will last until the dead of winter returns, but I am reminded that all things begin anew.

Disturbing some of the plants to clear out the debris released the fragrance of sage, lavender, lemon thyme, sweet woodruff and mint, and the joy that comes from the scent of things to come...

I am reminded that much in this world is merely the scent, or the promise of things to come. There is coming a day when this earth shall pass away, with its sin-stains, sorrows, sickness and grief, and a new earth will be formed in perfection. C.S. Lewis said that the wistful longing, the tears that come in the midst of the joy of a beautiful sunset or a striking scene of natural beauty is because there is something in us that longs for that in its perfected state which is to come.

I don't know about that, but I know that these things remind me of what I have already learned of God and hint at wonders I have yet to discover. As I stir up and remove the debris of the past, the fragrance of hope at what can be is released and my soul, my very being rejoices that I can be renewed, healed, restored.

There is a portion of my garden that was fouled by an oil spill a few years ago. At first it smelled and killed the herbs growing there. I removed as much of the fouled earth as I could without killing the plants, and have waited to see what will happen. I had read a report of an oil spill, where the seas and sands have been cleaned by natural processes without human help, and I wondered what would happen.

For the past couple of years, the area that was spoiled was simply dead. None of my plants seemed to recover, though the roots and the dry tendrils remained, but this year there are small signs of life in that previously dead-looking patch of ground. I'm not entirely sure what has happened, whether the plant is rejuvanating, or if the parts that were still alive elsewhere are simply spreading into what was defiled, but either way there is life beginning where there was death.

So I am thinking today about renewal and cleansing and fresh starts. Forgiveness for the past, looking forward to the future. It's all good.

Some damage goes deeper than a bit of motor oil, like the scars from strip mining on the front range, visible from many miles away. These scars, this spoiling and desecration, takes much more concentrated and deliberate effort to restore but there is progress being made there. The scars are still visible, but less so, and perhaps one day they will be unrecognizable, perhaps not. I am thinking though that no matter how deep the damage to us, even though there may be scars, our scarred and ruined places can be redeemed if we are willing to work at it and speak life into the lifeless places. How? Well, we must examine old ways of thinking, patterns we developed in childhood or in poor relationships, things we told ourselves, vows we made to protect ourselves from further hurt, and rebuke them, change our thinking through the deliberate memorization and meditation on Scripture, choosing to think and act in healthy ways.

I used to have written on my bathroom mirror, "Do the healthy thing." It was a reminder to me that to become healthy, in our physical, emotional, mental, spiritual or social beings, we must emulate what healthy people do. Does a healthy person eat salad instead of fries? Then we choose to eat salad. Is a healthy person super-sensitive? Then we choose to tell ourselves to get over it. Whatever that choice is, we emulate a healthy person. Eventually, eating a salad will become the normal thing for me; ignoring small slights will become normal; taking a walk becomes normal; turning off the TV becomes normal; getting out of bed, taking a shower and getting dressed when we are depressed becomes normal, and helps beat depression. Whatever the healthy thing, whatever the good thought, the better choice becomes more and more normal for me as I practice healthy living. For me, that is the way we bring life to the deeply scarred areas in our lives.

I refuse to be depressed anymore. That refusal is not a mere "I won't," it is a determination with a plan. For instance, I will wash my hair every day. That may seem like a silly thing, but for me, it is an important sign that I will not neglect taking care of myself. I have to be deathly ill before I will allow myself to stay in my pajamas all day. Some of my friends stay in their pajamas on a Saturday as their de-stress thing. For me, getting dressed is a sign to me mentally that I will not be a sloth, particularly important with my physical difficulties.

These may seem small, but they are some of the things I do to heal those "scars on the mountain" in my life. Some of those things may always be visible to others, but I am actively choosing life over death, victory over defeat.

And that is what Spring reminds me of...that life returns, that death doesn't win. The past is just that, the past. Hey, I've got enough to deal with just living in today, right?

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