Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What Looks Dead...

Has your winter been harsh? 

I think there are many of us in the U.S. that can agree that this last winter was pretty stinky. Whether you live in the east, south, north or west, we all saw weather conditions that just didn’t seem right.

Recently a writer friend challenged me to describe my winter here in Colorado. Words such as bitter, desolate, never-ending, bleak, dark, and stark came to mind. 

Those words seemed flat, so I tried to include more descriptive words to add some flavor. Freezing, ferocious, soaked, unyielding, gloomy, dismal and forsaken seemed about right.

“Wait,” she said, “those sound more like words of mourning than words of winter.”

“Is there a difference?” 

“You tell me,” she answered.

Little did I know how she was leading me to see how my winter season was really the winter I was feeling in my heart after losing my mom.

Life changes.

April 1st is the time to begin pruning back the dead stems of the rose bushes in Colorado. So I headed out to clean out my front garden and clip off all the brown withered stalks of my roses as well as clean out the dead foliage of my lilies and peonies. 

Snipping away I found new rose shoots appearing many places. Some were at the bottom of the bush, some along what looked like dead branches. It was a reminder to me that not everything that looks dead remains that way. 

Much like me. What a tough winter it has been. My mom died on December 21st, the first day of the season of winter and my heart entered a desolate time of its own. Since then the struggle to just move ahead has been challenging at times. But with the onset of spring, I remember that there is new life. New life for my mom and the promise of new life for me.

Over the past couple months I have been asked to talk with people about science and faith and how they intertwine. Getting to share my passion has been a good distraction for me. Then last week when I was thanking our pastor for recommending me yet again for the same topic, he said, “Well, it is your ministry.”

I was totally taken back by that statement. My ministry…

I never really thought about it like that. An interest, yes. A passion, of course. But a ministry? Huh. 

Then I started pruning those thorny bushes out front and saw those new shoots. It was a reminder that though winter this year was the roughest I’ve ever seen, new promise is revealed. Yes, I need to trim away the dead parts of me…the hurt, the pain, and the consumption of chocolate (because all the chocolate in the world won’t bring my mom back), there are still parts of me that come back anew. 

I shared so many things with my mom. And I thought the science and faith passion we shared was one of those dead branches that needed to be pruned back, lost forever. But no. What looks dead does not always remain that way. 

What an appropriate lesson for me to learn this week as we enter the holiest time of the year, the death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. What looks dead WILL NOT remain dead. 


I am grateful to the Lord for such a visual reminder in nature…in science.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

God is Everywhere

I remember learning as child that God was everywhere. Wrapping my head around such an idea at a young age was pretty impossible, especially since children demand everything to be  tangible. I sat for hours trying to figure out how God was in the closet and if He was, why he didn’t get rid of the monsters that I just knew were lurking in there. 

Even at school we talked about it. I had one friend who went from flower to flower, bending down, squinting one eye shut and staring with the other asking, “God, are you in there?” From the playground we’d watch passing cars from behind the chain-linked fence, and once in a while someone would say, “Maybe God’s in that one.”

It was a contemplation that we just couldn’t wrap our heads around. Until one day. In December. Maybe it was because we were so cold that our brains were shivering all the ideas together, or that we were learning about the birth of Jesus, but one friend, Julie said, “The reason God is everywhere is because the whole world is in His tummy.” Aha! Finally. Something that made sense. We all took to drawing pictures of an old man with an earth smack dab in the middle of his abdomen. 

I know that I breathed easier that day. I could finally put that mystery to bed. Later I asked Julie how she had been so brilliant in her conclusion (we were so smart I’m sure I used those exact words…) and she just looked at me and said, “Well, if your mommy can carry a baby in her tummy, why can’t God carry all of us in His?” (see my footnote.)

Catechism 101. Done. 

I look at that today and think, “Wow, Julie, you weren’t that far off.” Why?

1.      Genesis 1:27 says that we are made in God’s image. If you’ve read any of my blogs, you know that I take that verse very seriously and I have many takes on it. I will be expanding on some of those very soon, but for now I’ll give you one example. Deep down in the very depths of us, in our DNA, amino acids come together in three’s called codons, and those three’s combine with each other to define our genetic makeup. Our God is Trinitarian, so at the very center of our creation—we mirror Him.
 2.    The one thing we need to survive in this world is water. Two-thirds of the earth is covered by water, and two-thirds of the human body is water. Water aids in cell division and generation as well as every aspect of our being. It hydrates us more profoundly that we realize. And a water molecule contains two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, reflecting once again the Trinity—Our God.
3.      Every living thing needs water to survive and everything in the world was formed by water. We read in Genesis 1 that water was there AT creation (vs 2). And Genesis 1:9 tells us that water receded to form land. We know from science about glaciers and even how rushing rivers formed land masses such as the Grand Canyon. Water was instrumental in God’s creating. And it still is. (Funny, but with all the talk about the differences in science and faith, we can’t seem to see they fit perfectly together as they did during creation.)
4.      God carries us each and every day, just like a pregnant woman. Sometimes we think to ask for His presence, sometimes we don’t, but just because we don’t ask doesn’t mean He’s not there.

So now in my contemplation I see that Julie was right. God is bigger than us. He is bigger than all of creation. And yet, He takes the time to be with each of us, individually, and in our own unique way. 

I go back to Julie’s image of my pregnant mom. How much more would we experience God’s love if we imagined Him caring for us as loving mother cares for her unborn child? Completely, unconditionally, and continually. Hmmm. Just take 3 seconds and picture that. Ahhh…

Footnote: It seemed my mom was always pregnant, but then again I am the oldest of eight kids. In reality she pretty much was. She told me once that if felt like it too! And to be honest, that’s how I picked her out of a crowd as a child. I looked for women, then scanned for the amazing red hair, then I looked to see if the woman was pregnant. Bingo! Worked every time.