New Season. New Ingredients.

IMG_1508This isn’t a post about cooking. Or food. Well, maybe a little. But mostly not.

The weather is changing, finally. Buds are breaking open. The lawns are growing in uneven mounds. The sun seems to stay around a little longer every day. And the sunsets are less buried behind mounds of grey clouds. Spring is showing her face, and she’s grinning ear to ear.

Suddenly I’m in the mood for green bean salads, corn on the cob, peaches, and anything accompanied by charcoal smoke. I want cocktails laced with mint and blackberries. I’m craving lemon bars and strawberry shortcake. These are the vittles of spring and summer, and the sunshine makes me want them.

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Only in the last couple years have I begun to enjoy cooking. (What really happened is that I stopped being intimidated by the stove and cookware and kitchen timers.) But one of the things I love most is how new seasons bring new ingredients. You wouldn’t make peach cobbler in the winter. Who would prepare pumpkin pie in July? No, each season has ingredients that are best in that season.

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I was thinking about this the other day as I was picking produce, and the thought suddenly struck me: When was the last time I changed my life-giving ingredients? When did I last stir up the things I use to give life it’s flavor?

I’m a big believer in having disciplines. Our home is often chaos with three kids running (or crawling… or falling) amok. My work is a brand new challenge nearly every day. So my habits, my practices, they keep me on the level. But I recently wrote about how I feel like I’ve been waiting on spring to spring up in my own heart, and now I’m thinking that one way to help that along might be to change up the ingredients a little bit.

I’m looking at each of the things I regularly do and asking:

How can I mess with that?

I’ve been reading mostly non-fiction. I need to read some novels.

I’ve been watching mostly TV shows. Maybe I need some movies.

I’ve been listening to podcasts. Time to find some new music.

I’ve been keeping a journal. Tomorrow I should take up drawing again.

I’ve been diving deep into just a couple verses of scripture at a time. Maybe it’s time to take in whole chapters or books.

A couple weeks ago, when spring was still unsteady on her feet, I jumped the gun and started cooking up spring-like things. I laid out the welcome mat for her, and now she’s at the door. Whose to say we can’t hasten our hearts toward the next season of life too with a little precocious planning?
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Fight the Headlines

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Have you looked at the news of late,
at what new calamities the world can create
all plastered on the front page
as if we’re all upon the stage
of some Greek tragedy?

There is a crazed racket
of noise voiced
by the newspapers
and news anchors
on televisions,
all repeating renditions
of doom and gloom
that leave little room
for hope.

Wars rage on the very first page,
and the page after that
asserts that
this or that spat
will in fact
become a war tomorrow.

And on page three
are the refugees
who flee
those wars
only to wash up on shores
where they’re not wanted.

Page four
has more,
from terrorist acts
to economic collapse
lined up by first drafts
of a peace accord
that went ignored
while everyone went on fighting.

And all of this unease
has high degrees
of complexities,
which means that we
can’t easily
solve the world’s pollutions
with simple conclusions
or quick-fix solutions.
And so all of my disillusions
only grow.

And I ask:
What have we done
to the world we come from?
When hopelessness pervades
the prayer that I’ve prayed
is that we won’t we have to lie in the bed that we’ve made.

And we cry out to God for Mercy.
And his answer to us
is His son, Jesus.

For on Friday a crown of thorns sat upon his brow
but by Sunday an empty tomb held the promise that now
the worst of kinds of news
can be redeemed and infused
with hope.

Jesus,
Silence the news
and the views
of those who would tell us that the world will come to nothing
for you are the thing
the world will come to.
You. Only you.

These headlines that roll on
will not be the words that I stand on
for my hope is built on
the one who gave me breath
and whose power conquered death!

Yes, death has been swallowed up in victory!
So fear and these headlines have nothing on me.
And in the face of whatever news I might be given
I will declare this one headline:
“Jesus has risen!”

Spring

First it snowed.
The next day it was warm and breezy and we played outside in the sunshine on the swings.
The day after that it snowed again.
Today it’s raining.

That has been April so far. Spring so far. One step forward; two steps back.

My heart has been doing an identical dance because inside I’ve felt a kind of winter for a little too long. And while I sense I might be in the last gray days, they haven’t all felt like a forward march.

I’ve sometimes thought of spring as a coy, young thing. She’s a little shy, coming ever closer down the path but darting behind every tree as she draws near, peeking out, only one eye showing.

Or as a tease in a game of hide and seek. While I stand quiet in the woods attentive to every rustle of leaves underneath her feet, she moves from hiding place to hiding place. At first the game is thrilling as the giggles ring off of everything, but in time it turns wearisome and I find myself sighing and then muttering, “Enough already.”

Or as someone indecisive or even capricious. One day she’s this and the next day she’s that and the day after that she’ll be something else entirely.

Maybe that thinking originates in the pastels and petals, the scents that flit by with the breeze, the sudden storm that’s just as suddenly gone, and the gangly and helpless new creatures. All these signs of new life feel so delicate and ephemeral.

But I’m starting to think spring is a soldier.

The garden and the grass arm themselves with sharpened spears to pry open the hardened ground. The delicate flower must first burst open the branch with a bud. And marshaling heat enough to chase away the months of cold is a terrible feat. Spring comes in bits and pieces because she’s only just beginning to break through enemy lines. Some days she’s beaten back, and some days she takes ground. She soldiers on.

As I anticipate the coming of a kind of spring in my own heart… I might need to fight.