Blossoms in the Thorns
California has had a record year. Some places like Yosemite Valley have seen a 148% increase in snow pack. Family members keep sending me snapshots of cactus blossoms and hillsides of poppy flowers. Seeds that had been waiting dormant under the surface during the drought years have suddenly sprung to life, and hills that were once on fire now blossom in pinks, reds, and orange. The years of lamenting and water conservation with rain barrels are over, and AstroTurf businesses are no longer busy.
As an ecologist, I can't help but send my caution. As an evangelical, I send even more prayers. It is easy to relish in the blossoms, to dance in the rain, and smile toward Heaven. But, I wonder about those years of drought-- the years when the thorns hold only one blossom instead of twenty-five. Can we learn to relish those moments?
During the Sermon on the Mount Jesus turns the Hebrew culture's idea of prosperity and blessing completely upside down. He tells them that they will be blessed when they are persecuted. He reminds them that there are blossoms in the thorns. While, I wish we [the church] had a handle on that concept today, I must confess, that we know little of Jesus' real idea of prosperity and blessing. We continue to only dance in the rain.
This month I will experience my last month at my job, my last month with a group of college students that have officially become my friends, and my last month along colleagues that were once my teachers. While spiritually I am not living in drought, this month has brought many thorns. They have been thick, and wicked, and at times deeply wounding. As I look around, though, I think of all that I am blessed with. There are blossoms among the thorns.
In the words of Saint Raymond,
We'll never be as young as we are now,
The faces in the crowd are thinning out,
And I'm not saying stick around, but stick around,
And we may never have another light today, tomorrow is brand new start away,
And we'll never be as young as we are now, as we are now.
I wonder what the world would be like if we learned to dance in the scorching sun? If we stood in the thorns of the cactus and hiked through briars to pick flowers, what would that say about us? About God? It might say that we are beautiful even in the thick of it, and that God is good even in drought.