It’s a New Year.
We begin again with fresh hope.
We tend to think of “starts” as active & engaged moments, marked by powerful surge, don’t we? Kick-offs, start lines, first days… beginnings – marked points from which a journey/race/endeavor propels. We think movement. We conjure an adrenaline rush.
But that’s not how things always begin. Some beginnings are still, cold and quiet; especially the “begin agains.”
To the delight of my school-aged children, we started the New Year in the still cold of a Snow Day. The kids bounded into the calm, frigid and quiet with exuberant joy. I’m no math scholar, but the equation: (no school + snow = sledding) is a “duh!”
With below-zero wind chill and a newish baby, destination sledding was out of the question. The big kids had to make do with the side yard (for easy access to frequent hot cocoa warm-ups and check-ins by mom.)
They had to get a running start and leap to make much of the low-grade slope and short run and then bail by the sidewalk to avoid the street, but they were certainly having fun.
At some point their simple fun took a turn towards boisterous joy. I could tell even from where I sat inside, because the squeals of delight took on increased frequency of quantity and volume. When I went out to witness the fun I became the joy-thief. Since last check they had innovated. They were taking a new, faster route – angling across our yard and into the neighbors. The route had the added climax of a “jump” created by the pile of snow shoveled over from the neighbor’s driveway.
I said, “Looks fun kids, but let’s go back to the other route staying in our yard. The neighbors might not want you sledding on their property.”
The kid’s froze, dejected. They bowed their heads in disappointment, but complied, dragging their sleds back to the former route. I went back inside. They were quiet.
I didn’t witness it, but I can imagine the still air between brother and sister. I can see the pause that displayed their breath: the frigid in-between moment when hope sprang from frozen ground. A new idea born!
Moments later, my daughter came bounding into the house. “She said ‘Yes’ Mama. She said ‘Yes’!”
They had done the thing that I didn’t even think to do: ask permission. Together, they decided to just knock on the next-door neighbor’s door and ask to sled in the yard. And as my daughter explained, “She was happy when she said ‘Yes.’”
I forget, too often. When I’m stalled, frozen by life’s disappointment, why do I assume the scene is just desolate? Don’t I know that hope can spring from frozen soil?
I forget, too often. Why don’t I just take my hope to the Property Owner and ask permission? Why do I so often assume He wants to withhold?
I forget, too often. Why do I despise small beginnings? Why don’t I find courage to begin-again?
I forget, too often. Why do I think my ideas will be met with a “No.” by a God of no-fun? Why do I keep moving inside the world’s rules instead of innovating with Him in the stillness?
Why don’t I maintain “faith like a child?”
“He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And He said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'”
Hopers, did you know that you can sow the seeds for a thriving wildflower garden in the dead of winter?
“Would it surprise you to hear that winter is a good time to sow wildflower seeds? Although we usually plant annual flower and vegetable seeds from spring through fall, many perennial wildflower seeds need pre-chilling, or a period of exposure to cold and moisture. These seeds can be scattered even on top of a blanket of snow,” says Lynn Coulter of HGTV.
Hope springs up even there – in the still frozen air. It’s hanging/living in our every breath. It’s fantastic and wonderful and mysterious that He is with us, in us, our ever-present hope. Hope is hard to swallow. So don’t, instead – breathe it out! Scatter it into the cold of winter.
“What breath is to the physical body, hope is to the human spirit. Hope is what consoles us. It is the fuel that energizes us, gets us up in the morning and propels us through the day,” -John R. Claypool
Reader, I wish you, patient, persistent, propelling and permission-seeking HOPE today.