Today has the raw edge of spring. Today has the wind that blows away the winter. Today also has the hard things about spring - the painful growing, the spindly stalks of new plants, the fragile heart, the desire to continue hibernating because the sunlight of the truth can be harsh.
Today I found myself wanting, really, really wanting to return to hibernation. I love growing, but when I have to push up out of the ground, when I have to stand fast and not be bowled over by the winds of busy, of anxiety, of overachieving, of perfectionism... then the growing is painful. When the tests come, the ones that measure and reveal how the arable land, the fertile soil, the places where God is going to prune and fertilize and even yank up weeds... those tests hurt. There is no way around it.
Gardens do not become beautiful without the gardener's careful eyes and hands. And today I could feel Him moving. Amid my frustration, and my inability to see clearly, to see what is ahead, to manage my time, to understand, to ask the right and mature questions... I watched in a kind of tired amazement that He is still at work. When I have nothing left to give, no energy of my own, He is tirelessly growing me into His vine. Jesus whispers that the growing will be hard, that it will mean that many winds blow, and many storm clouds cross the sky, and it will rain. But then he says, as I quiver, as I look at Him, face heavy with fears and sadnesses, Behold. I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Behold, friends. He is here in the midst of April 5 rain. He is here in the midst of windy spring. He is here in the midst of too many questions and never enough answers. Abiding in the vine was never promised to be easy. It was promised to be the meaning of life. Remaining in Jesus? It is not the comfort of this world, the comfort of less feeling, less demand, less responsibility. It is the comfort of Himself. It is the comfort of the Cross. We are being grafted every moment deeper into the true vine, into the One who gives life, and it is not easy. But behold - He is here, in the midst of the growing.
Rainer Maria Rilke wrote to Mr. Kappus about growing, about questions, and his words, though not to me, almost are to me (I copied them in Italian before):