You probably heard about the great storm hit the west coast. The news described it as “A once in a lifetime” kind of storm, that many weren’t ready to handle. Though we desperately needed the rain and snow, never did we think it would all come in one, consecutive 27-hour downpour.
With such rain comes mudslides, flooded streets, and downed trees. Over in the park by my house, ducks enjoyed the newly formed pond that was once a playground. By that new aquatic playground, two massive mature trees were uprooted and sat sideways like slumbering giants.
It was a serious blow to those who found rest in their shade. And to the many of us who just loved their majestic beauty.
(On a side note: these trees which were over to 75 feet tall, feel in such a way that nothing else was harmed in the process. The exercise equipment, the new fence around the tennis courts, the basketball hoops, and even the memorial bench that all shared this space were all spared.)
The great impressionist Paul Cézanne said, “Life is art. Art is life. I never separate it.” He was one of my favorites. But that aside, if a piece of bark can be made into a work of art it seems to reason that so too can any tragedy or challenge we face.
As painful as it is to see these beautiful trees gone, I know that death is not the end. It is the beginning of something new and beautiful. Unfortunately, the pain of that loss can be so overwhelming that it blinds us. It makes us wait through the pain to see what will come from it.
Life is just active waiting, a time we enter into a space and engage with it. Sometimes we just get overwhelmed in feeling it. Other times we just struggle to face whatever it brings up. Sometimes we make progress and grow through it. Sometimes we throw our hands up and walk away.
This might be easier to do with plants than it is with people. But it is one in the same. Life comes. Then life goes. How we fill the space between - the void left in their wake - is our great challenge.
We often think of Lent as a time to deprive the spirit. But I believe it's really about feasting and filling that space with something new and better. As we struggle along this pilgrimage through Lent or through life, may we never forget to dream about the possibilities that our struggles produce.
The world is your canvas. Dream big. And make it bigger.
An ex-copywriter turned punk rock pastor and peacemaker who dedicates his life to making the world a better place for all humanity.
"that they all might be one" ~John 17:21
“Prius vita quam doctrina.”
~ St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)
* “Life is more important than doctrine.”