Wednesday, January 2, 2013

slow starting

A few years ago, as the year sputtered to its end, I drove along a lonely highway between Lancaster and Harrisburg to visit a friend. After living in Southern California for a few years, I’d forgotten how empty and dull winter can be on the East Coast. Trees abandoned by their leaves and days-old snow browned by gravel spewed onto it by disinterested cars lined that road, while formless clouds sealed a chill in the damp air and made day not much lighter than the night. Heavy with something I couldn’t name, I felt a sort of relief that the new year wouldn’t start with sunshine and bright flowers, but slowly, in the dead of winter.

I get excited about starting things with a big flourish and lots of enthusiasm — though I often find myself waning halfway through something. Maybe nature was onto something, I thought to myself. Why not let the new things remain hidden, underground for the first days or weeks or even months? Instant results provide motivation, we all know that to be true. But maybe we can cultivate something deeper than excitement or momentum, like trust, love and discipline. The feel for the process, and letting ourselves be truly changed by it. A building joy at what we can feel more and more each day is taking place inside. 

There are verses in the Bible that use seeds, soil and fruit to illustrate the process of how things of God grow. I’m drawn to these metaphors in part because they speak to the mystery of that process, and to the fact that we can’t control how or where new things spring up. But these verses also hint to us that we can trust the process. When we plant seeds, we know some may not survive to see the light, but we also trust that the soil and sun will do their part, and that the seed knows what it needs to grow.

So I just wanted to say to you, take heart and trust that new things will sprout in your life this year, even if the start has already been slow or painful. I would venture to say that most starts that bear real fruit usually are that way.

No comments:

Post a Comment