Spring cleaning

Springtime makes me want to be new.

It has nothing to do with theology.

The weather creeps into the sixties long enough to melt all the snow, reminding us of the overgrown, lumpy lawns that we've been ignoring since the first frost fell last autumn. Our winter clothes are not just boring and tired from constant wear, but some of them are showing their age in real ways - fading elbows, loose threads, holes, a certain sad sogginess to garments that once were crisp - and we are on the cusp of giving away our wardrobes in reckless abandon to make room for summer clothes. Lighter days give us more precise eyes to inspect the dust bunnies that have been cozying up in the corners of the dining room all winter, and more mud clings to our shoes and to the kitchen floor.

Even if it snows again a week from now, we've had a taste of spring, of a world beginning its own growing and greening projects. Is it any wonder that I've spent hours planning a perfect project to plant succulents in a languishing stack of glass jars that have been waiting for a use? It it any wonder that instead of busywork, I would rather be knitting, hiring contractors to do long-overdue house projects, and shopping for rain boots for my toddler?

When we see newness and creativity popping up around us - even the muddy, brown newness of a spring thaw - we feel the urge ourselves to be new.

It is an urge that stirs in me both creativity and sadness. Because if I am sensitive to the need for beautiful things to emerge around me, I am also sensitive to all the parts of this world that fight newness and emergence with every fiber of their being.

If the world outside is trying to grow new things from the ground and if the sun is trying to rise earlier and newer with each spring day, then why is the world also still filled with people's tendency toward selfishness and outrage and temper tantrums disguised as political debates? Why do we still fear change and find ourselves anxious about emerging into the future? Why do people still die from stubborn cancer? Why do we still have strange dreams about our griefs and our insecurities?

Maybe this is where all this newness starts to turn theological.

Springtime makes me want to be new. And springtime also wants me to make the world new. And let's be honest. There's no possible way that I, myself, can succeed at making the world new. I can drag others into my crazy mission of trying to make this world a better place, but that still doesn't mean that we'll make the world new. I can put energy into any number of inspired, creative projects, and still find that I don't have enough time to take care of my family or my congregation or myself as well as I'd like.

Maybe the point of spring is to awaken our imaginations toward a world that someday, far beyond our own power, might be new and renewed. Maybe the point of spring is to reveal the gap between what we want and what is. Maybe spring reminds us that our best creative efforts are, at best, narrow reflections of our imago dei, but that the original creator is going to be our best hope for a world recreated.

I'll still throw myself out there, of course, and shout to the world, arms outstretched, "Don't you want to be new?? Don't you want to dig deep and take a gamble on the future, and see what is about to happen??"

And I'll plant my succulents...and probably post pictures of them to all my social media outlets because I find them charming. And I'll trudge through the tired parts of my work, knowing that summer will be here before I know it, when I will have some of the same tasks to trudge through, but at least I can do them outside on the patio behind Java John's, while sipping iced coffee and watching people ride their bikes past me.

This world can be new. I know it. I have faith. God grant me patience.

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