Older now, I
In a brush with hope
Surrender my crayon colors.
You, bartering for even the ole green stumps of envy, wanting everything
Even little broken sticks papered in crispy gloves, curling with grease..and age.
Prying them from my chubby fingers
In a mercy trade, unfair.
With highest hope, You exchange for me
Your very own green plume of light
A true color, luminous
Eternity now, shining out
From my box,
The slick shades of youth replaced
By the new wax
Your everlasting green
Breaking through invisible
Lines that lied to me
From sky to sea
So long the tide
Of current patterns
Had washed the waves
Over my head, murky
Until one day,
and then another,
You stretched your hand
Beyond the reach of any man.
As You do .., and
Today I have hope
My hopeIs You.
Today as I was reading from the most amazing devotional, called DIVINE INTIMACY, I landed on a page entitled HOPE. Being a depressive and anxious type, I tend to stay away from such topics. Even the mere word, HOPE, teases my pessimistic nature. It sounds so...pollyanna, empty, if you know what I mean. POLLYANNA was a movie about a twelve or so year old blondie that changed a whole community with her upbeat way of seeing things, the poster child for hope. Yuck. I was educated (miseducated)? in the arts and philosophy in the sixties, and hope was not of the essence in those existential, beatnik -to- hippie days.
Those early days during which I nursed voraciously, suckling from the mishapen breast of the times, from a postmodern culture of cool cynicism, god-is-dead, stay -in-your -own -head. Life was most popularly described by echoes of Sartre and Camus, in stories like the myth of Sisyphus,who spent his whole existence pushing a Stonehedge size rock up an impossible mountain, only to roll it down again, hitting bottomm, all for naught and nought for all. Life's only meaning was meaninglessness, the meaning you made of it yourself. (Sound familiar? Today we are still reeling from the stench of that thinking). In the art world of the 60's, where I lived, an ugly painting was labeled beautiful, a truly beautiful one, just too trite-unoriginal. We called it the beginning of postmodern thinking. Today, I call it the emperor's new clothes, going around naked and lying about how great we look and how good it feels.
In those formative post-college years I did not know Christ, not the real Christ, and although I came from a devout Catholic family, I chose the road that seemed to me at the time, less traveled, the more unconventional way. The way of post-modern day thinking. So cool and artsy to be part of the avant-garde. It led me to...nowhere, and reinforced my natural anxieties about life. I seemed to be uncomfortably comfortable there..for a while.
Today, after quite a bumpy ride, I brake each morning at the sight of words that seem pre-highlighted in green, that seem written just for me, words like the ones I awoke to this morning, just as the conversation in my mind was dogging round and round in my endless hopeless circles of too much thinking, dreary predictions of boredom, fatigue, and bad news. These words shined a loving green light directly in through my blindfold. These words were the inspiration for the above poem, which burst forth from unpacking them.
CLOTHE ME, O GOD, WITH THE GREEN GARMENT OF HOPE. This morning's devotional went on to say that a living hope in Him gives the soul ardor, passion and energy, so much courage and longing for the things of eternal life, that by comparison with what it hopes for, all things of the world seem to it to be, as in truth they are, DRY, FADED, DEAD, and without value.
But my mind still insists, so what, I cannot wait that long. Waiting through what seems like eternity to get to Eternity? No. Eternal Life, when will that start? I have to live through this long night in a bad inn (as Teresa of Avila described life as we know it) and then die first. No.
And that, with just a faint ray of hope that someday all would be wonderful on the other end. No. Having never never been able to stick to a diet or exercise program, how could I be expected to make this kind of commitment,the ultimate challenge of delayed gratification. No, cannot do it, not from here.
I am just not green enough..yet.
But God, who has skills, suggests that I look it up. Look up the words eternal life??? A word study on the meaning of eternal life motivates me. It is head stuff. He knows how much I like that. After much research, I find that God defines eternal life as union with Him..and the good green news is that it begins...here and, my favorite word, NOW.
But always, He reminds me, it is a battle to stay in this lucious place, His now presence. The battlefield is my own mind, my head. Quite a hard place. He encourages me with this next line in the devotional:
LET HOPE BE THE HELMET OF SALVATION WHICH WILL PROTECT MY HEAD FROM THE WOUNDS OF THE ENEMY, AND DIRECT ME TO HEAVEN, FIXING MY EYES ON HIM ALONE, MY GOD. Scripture exhorts us to put on this helmet daily, preferably as part of morning prayer, reminding us that we are in the middle of a battle daily. It goes on to say, As the eyes of the handmaid are set upon her mistress, (for those of us that have handmaids..or caregivers) even so are my eyes set upon Him, until He comforts me with His Presence because He cannot resist my HOPE.
Now I am thinking of my seeds of HOPE as a sod lawn, watering and fertilizing, faithfully putting on my helmet, marked THINK GREEN, keeping the stubborn underground critters away, gophers, rodent pests, demons, the enemy. Armed with thoughts fixed on Him, soon my garden will be lush with His Presence, gracing my days, moment by moment, the King at my side. First comes hope, then ardor, then the helmet, leaving the enemy hopeless. March on.
The joy of the Lord is my strength.