the green stems of possibility...

The wise Parker Palmer has written:  "When we are obsessed with bottom lines and productivity, with efficiency of time and motion, with the rational relation of means and ends, with projecting reasonable goals and making a beeline toward them, it seems unlikely that our work (or lives) will ever bear fruit - unlikely that we will never know the fullness of spring in our lives." Why?

Because spring teaches me to look more carefully for the green stems of possibility: for the intuitive hunch that may turn into a larger insight, for the glance or touch that may thaw a frozen relationship, for the stranger's act of kindness that makes the world seem hospitable again.

I know that I realized the wisdom of this as I was raking up the leaves left over from last October. Our front yard did not get much attention this past fall mostly because of Dianne's injuries; there simply wasn't time to make the yard look pretty and attend to everything else. So, for six months everything lay buried under tons of debris. With the stunning sun of last weekend, however, I made certain to rake and clean so that our autumn detritus was hauled off to our compost heap. And there were wee daffodils starting to peek through the soil and a few crocuses, too. So as I dragged load after load of wet leaves to the backyard dump, Palmer's words about learning from the "green stems of possibility" and the wisdom of Spring's fullness crept back into my thinking.

"Before spring becomes beautiful," Palmer writes, "it is plug ugly, nothing but mud and muck." How true this is - in some relationships, in much of politics and in lots of what passes for prayer - and how easy to forget! This Sunday is Palm Sunday, the initiation of Holy Week, the most sacred and confusing season of the Christian year. It is filled with highs and lows - and they are always right next to one another - from the exaltation of Christ's entry into Jerusalem to the crowds crying "Crucify!" Up until a few days ago, I was feeling ambivalent about Holy Week. In some ways it was just one more commitment to accomplish.

Then two things took place - and I was awakened to the "green stems of possibility" breaking through the mud and muck.  The first happened during my confirmation class after Sunday worship when the young people and their parents talked with me about how important this small church is to their lives.  One young guy said, "I feel safe in this community." Hmmmm... The next night at Council, when we talked about helping the membership move emotionally, spiritually and physically into the blessings of being a "small church," there was near unanimity that small is beautiful. "In this age of the impersonal and so-called economies of scale" someone said, "I need to be known by my name." Another mentioned the theme song to the old TV program "Cheers" and still another noted that in a small faith community your voice and gifts can be treasured. We were clear that one of the alternatives we can offer to the rush towards greater size and busyness comes simply by being small - and loving it.

Clearly, Spring is right around the corner. Many of us are still moving through the mud and the muck, but we're starting to notice the green stems of possibility, too. And when I saw this clip 
posted on FB I just knew it was true.


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