I sit in the dark. It is 2015. I thought it would never arrive. Some years are just slow moving, and for me, 2014 was one of them. It was a year of pruning, and those years are never fun. They are painful, and require a day to day remembering that the fruit comes after the pruning…eventually. So as I sit here in the dark, I hesitate to pull back the curtain to see the New Year. Did it really come, and will it really be any different than the previous one? I mean I know the words…His mercies are new EVERY MORNING…but there are some years it seems that morning never comes, and it does not matter that there are 365 of them. And what is it about this ONE that is so special? I mean it’s just another day, right?
Yet, if I am honest, with the striking of midnight on this one night, I find hope creeping into my heart. Hope for a new thing, a fresh start, a different beginning. Hope is a powerful force, and for me, most times…it comes with the morning. The sun rises and a new day begins and with the light everything looks different. The darkness and shadows disappear making everything somehow…better. It is comforting to know that despite the fact that nothing at all has changed, the morning light changes everything.
On this morning, after a year of bumping into things in the night, I will be glad to see the sun, if it is out there. Dare I pull back the curtain to see? Do you ever find yourself afraid to hope? Afraid that what you wish for will never come to pass, thinking that somehow things will never work quite the way you had always thought they would? I don’t think I am the only one who has felt this. We all know that hope deferred makes the heart sick. Yet, the word HOPE at the beginning of that proverb stops me in my tracks. It reaches into my heart, past my cluttered mind and my weary soul. It sparks there, and soon a flame is burning. I love it how God never lets me give up, even when I want to. The world around me can try to douse the flame…the news can all be bad, the public can lose their minds, the government can take and take some more, the faithful can turn their backs on God and each other, the violence can increase…and still anticipation burns deep within my chest. Even when I come to the place I would rather choose bitterness and cynicism…I can’t. Not for long anyway. Because I have found that even within myself I cannot quench the hope he’s planted. It does not come from me. It doesn’t even come from a day designed for hoping. It comes from Hope himself; therefore it is separate from me and cannot be taken. It lives within me.
In a year of God-ordained heartache and difficulty, I humbly choose to go to my knees…kicking and screaming the whole way down. My pride urges me to get up, and get up quickly, but my well trained heart knows that to get up prematurely only increases the pain when being required to bow again later, so he can finish the work he started. He always finishes what he starts. And so, I find myself wondering on this morning if the mourning has done its work yet. Weeping lasts for a night but joy comes in the mourning. It’s not a typo, it is my little rewrite. The mourning of losing the limbs he has pruned. The mourning of cutting back, and reducing. The mourning of changing roles. I know that once I have mourned, the joy will come. Hope promises me that. But my heart is asking, is THIS day the morning of hope? Something that happened yesterday makes me think it might be…but do I dare believe it?
You know how I sometimes SEE little things that catch my attention…well this was one of those things. I sat and watched butterflies for HOURS at a butterfly house in Callaway Gardens. Lingering for this length of time wasn’t previously possible with kids in tow, but now thanks to my new role, I have more time for lessons taught by creatures. The flying little beings were inspiring to me. I love the way they glide and float effortlessly…or so it appears to me. When you sit in one place, and just observe you see them play with one another, flitting around as if in a game of chase. Their colors are as magnificent as their designs are intricate.
My favorite ones are the bright blue ones, but they are also the most elusive. They rarely land, and when they do their wings close up so that all you can see is brown. I mean a drab brown that is barely noticeable. I found my eye drawn to their colorful flight over and over…of all the hundreds of marvelous miracles circling in the air, the blue stood out like neon on a dark night. I vacillated from sitting and just taking in the scene, to being up trying to catch images on my woefully inadequate phone camera. I found that even the least of the blurry shots could not begin to capture the beauty, so instead I chose to tune in to listen and SEE. To watch their wings lift and take them up. It made me think that sometimes hope is as mysterious as the blue butterflies, and you only catch a glimpse as it flies by. Yet, when you continue to look, you suddenly gasp, because it is sitting right next to you unnoticed…until it opens its wings and lifts off. Then, in rare instances, if you are still and quiet, it lights. You can feel its presence in the wind of its wings. Silently flashing its neon sign… HOPE is here. At least that is what I heard yesterday, when a blue butterfly found my shoulder and whispered in my ear.
Then, on the way out, I stopped by the “transformation station” where the chrysalis-covered butterflies hung, waiting to release themselves in the perfect time. I was transfixed at their incredibly slow efforts to obtain freedom. Some heads already out, others still wiggling in their encasements. One was hanging, wings spread out, drying before it took its maiden flight. A simple thought came flooding into my heart. Sometimes hope is disguised. It is encased in a dark, tight-fitting place. A place that feels more like suffocation than hope. A place that requires hope just to make the smallest of movements in the darkest of places. Yet, once the immense struggle is complete, the result is a neon sign that testifies. The lesson is that HOPE is in both places, the dark chrysalis and in the airy flight. It is not lost, or missing. It is the strength that pushes the wings out into the light and the wings that lift the creation to soar.
And so, because of the lesson of the butterflies…today I have the courage to open my curtain. To believe that the mourning, has brought with it the morning and that the hope that was with me in the darkness of 2014, will also be with me in the light of 2015. I stand and push back the curtain. The darkness evaporates. My eyes blink, trying to adjust to the transformation from dark to light and take in the scene outside my window. It is glorious. The sky is robin’s egg blue, and the clouds are long and thin. The barren trees are host to colorful birds, who are joyful that morning has come. They proclaim it loudly, with their songs. This morning is THE morning… full of belief and promise of fruit. This day that washes over me like the creek outside my window…with a crisp cool HOPE of things that are just over the horizon of this beautiful new beginning.
Happy New Year!