Hold on. Ya never know what Life is going to bring!
When we find ourselves in a difficult place we often feel as if things will never get better. And sometimes, depending on the circumstance we find ourselves absolutely devastated. We just need to hang in there. Something’s bound to pop up. Even in the devastation of death itself, we are given visions of hope beyond this life.
“A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse.” Again, Isaiah places this positive vision before the people, at a time when everything that they knew and loved was destroyed, cut down to the root. Instead of wallowing in the pain, he insists that this is not the end! What seems dead will come to life. Better days are ahead!
When we are going through a difficult time, it’s hard to believe that things will get better. But if we just hold on, hang in there, they do. I sometimes think of an old friend of mine. Devastated from a break up of one he loved so much, he was unable to look beyond that present moment and he was found dead in his garage, his car motor running. He was in his early 20’s. I wonder where life would have taken him had he decided to live. I know he would have done well. He was a bright, capable and good looking young man. I am certain that within months after that breakup, life would have gone on and I’m sure that he would have done so well in life and in love.
We just need to hang in there. Eventually something’s gonna pop up! “A shoot SHALL sprout from the stump . . .”
Jonah 3: 1-10
If someone told you that if you didn’t stop doing something you would soon be dead, would you stop doing that thing which is destroying you? I think most of us, if given the chance would indeed stop and choose to live! Jonah called out to the people, telling them that if they didn’t change they would soon be dead; and the people quickly turned from their death dealing ways and chose life.
Most of the time, we don’t have a Jonah though. We don’t have someone telling us to stop some negative pattern of behavior so that we might experience the best Life has to offer. Or if we do, we take their call to us as a personal affront, instead of seeing it as a gesture of love and concern for our well being. Most of the time we go about our negative habits or patterns of thinking or behavior totally denying how they are affecting us and those around us.
Don’t you want to really live? Don’t you want to get out there and drink life in?
When we’re caught in some bad habit, some negative pattern it literally sucks the life out of us, doesn’t it? Think about some negative thinking you might have, some negative behavior, some ingrained bad habit. Doesn’t it sap the life out of you, not to mention those around you?
I believe that God wants us to live, wants us to drink life in and get rid of those things that hold us from doing just that. Lent then really isn’t about gloom and doom. It’s about rising from the graves that we’ve built for ourselves. It’s about naming the lie that this or that behavior is going to make me feel better; when in reality it’s sucking the life out of me! It’s about letting go of that which has kept us mired in winter’s lifelessness. It’s about taking some small step away from something which is killing us or those around us and stepping into a new springtime of living!
I recently heard a talk in which the speaker described an animal that had been born in a zoo. After some years they built a multi-million dollar display, simulating the natural habitat for the animal, thinking that it would create a better, happier space for the animal. When it was released into its new space, much to their surprise, it stayed to one small area. It only walked the same path over and over, creating a rut in the ground, which got deeper as time went on. The animal had all this beautiful space, but it stayed in that one little rut and didn’t roam elsewhere! The speaker went on to say: aren’t we like that sometimes? We get in a rut, doing and thinking the same things over and over – missing so much of what could be if we just got out of the rut.
If you’ve read my last couple of meditations, you’ll know that I spoke of Lent as an opportunity to “get naked” to remove the “cloak” that holds us from being more present to life, to others and to God. When we, with the help of a Power greater than ourselves, remove whatever that is and stand naked in life, present, alive and aware – we get outa the rut and into the groove!
Suddenly, we begin to live again! Suddenly we look around and see so much of life around us. We slowly crawl out of that rut and begin, perhaps fearfully at first, to wander out into the beauty that we have been missing. All that beauty, all those people, all those possibilities suddenly open up before us – because we have had the courage to name that which keeps us all bound up, because we have had the courage to call on a Power greater than ourselves to free us.
Have you named the cloak that you need to remove, the cloak that keeps you separated from life, from others and from God? Have you called on a Higher Power to help you, trusting that the help WILL come? Is the cloak beginning to fall away?
Are you getting out of the rut, and into the groove?
So, . . . how’s it goin? You getting naked yet? Beginning to take off that cloak which separates you from God and others? Have you identified what it is? You could have several cloaks actually. Don’t get too ambitious. Just try taking off one. If you’re like me, I know the cloak that I need to remove. It’s glaringly obvious to me. But I begin to reach for the snap that will remove it; and suddenly I get frightened. What is life going to like without this cloak? I’ve worn it for such a long time! What will I say, how will I act without this cloak? What’s it going to be like to be naked? O my God, I can’t even believe that I’m thinking about removing this from my life and getting naked!
I remember when I was trying to quit smoking some years ago, I could NOT imagine what my life would be without cigarettes. How could I possibly enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning WITHOUT a cigarette? How could I possibly talk on the phone without a cigarette? How could I work, have a relaxing evening, clean, work on a project at home (the list goes on), WITHOUT having a cigarette??? It truly seemed unimaginable to me at the time. Now, I look back and say to myself, “what was I thinking??” The truth is, it’s glorious to have coffee in the morning WITHOUT a cigarette. It’s great working, relaxing, walking, talking with friends, WITHOUT a cigarette. It’s so freeing and I feel so much better.
Why then is it so difficult for me to envision my life without the cloak that I wear now? If we have been freed before, why is it difficult to imagine our life without lethargy and exercising? Why is it so difficult to imagine our life eating the right foods that will give us energy? Why is it so hard to imagine our life without so much internet, TV, without a negative attitude, more attentive to the needs of others?
Perhaps that’s the key. Imagination. Thinking. Envisioning. Can I begin to think in a new and exciting way about what life would be like without this cloak; instead of concentrating so negatively on what it would be like? Because the truth is this: Our lives will be IMMEASURABLY better WITHOUT this negative pattern of behavior! Perhaps that’s where we need to keep the focus of our thoughts.
God help me to imagine myself without this cloak that weighs me down! Help me to envision myself naked, happy and free!