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Lenten Roses Growing in my Garden

All around me whispers of hope. While running, I see new blossoms on the pear trees lining our neighborhood’s drive. The forsythia bushes are forcing out their yellow blooms in haphazard fits, like a gosling replacing its fuzzy tufts for the elegance of long sleek feathers. The earliest of the bulb plants are in bloom: daffodils, hyacinth, and crocus.

The whispers are beyond nature, however. It seems in the last two weeks, everywhere I look, Hope is staring back at me: The first lines of a new writing book I picked up last week began:

“Writing is an act of hope.”

I opened a book of Emily Dickinson poetry to read to my children and the first poem read:

Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul,

And sings the tune without the words,

And never stops at all…

Last week’s episode of The Bible on the History Channel was entitled Hope. My Lenten devotion this morning, written by Bonhoeffer was based on Romans 5:1-5:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us.

-Romans 5:1-5 NIV (bold print, mine)

I admit to turning to God in curiosity, wondering why He feels the need to knock me upside the head with hope. Has the Spirit discovered the holes in my heart? Despite my best efforts, I know I tend to turn the “hope that does not disappoint” into:

“Hope this wasn’t a mistake…hope I don’t feel this way forever…hope someday…”

Cheap hope. That is what I have traded for – the kind of hope dangled by its imposter, Wishing, who offers nothing solid in promises; only stars and candles and nursery rhymes.

For two weeks, I’ve seen the signs of hope and not really given them their due. I have recognized the pattern, understood the message, yet continued turning my head away, not purposefully or with disdain, but more from distraction – the noise and immediacy of chaos keeps tugging me towards itself like a impetuous toddler, hands on each side of my face, pulling at me and demanding attention.

Then again, maybe His message of hope isn’t just for me. I sat in a circle of believers this week, wiser than twice my years, and listened as they shared their life’s concerns and prayer requests. When we all bowed to pray, I heard beyond the pleas and proclamations to a promise held in Hope. The kind of hope wrapped in faith. The kind of faith that led Abraham to a mountain-top with his promised child, moving within a blink of spilling his son’s blood out of faith and hope in his God.

Hope.

Tomorrow, all of Christendom enters Jerusalem with Christ, laying out our palms at His feet and singing our Hosannas! But in the midst of it, I wonder…

How did a man so lauded and praised on one Sabbath, end up bloodied beyond recognition, nailed and dying on a cross like a common criminal the following Friday? Where is the Hope in that?

Out of my wondering, I’ve decided (more like I’ve been nudged from within) to enter Passion Week with Christ and his followers, study more carefully His final teachings and incline closely (like the disciple He loved) so as to hear – really hear – His Passion and this deeper Hope, which I continue bumping against.

I  ask – no, beg! –  you to enter with me. Every day this week, I will – by the grace of God alone! – blog on one of His final teachings. We will sit together at His feet.

And I pray in the midst of it, we will find our way to true Hope.

I’m excited! And somewhat scared : ) If you will be joining me, let me know – either a comment or ‘like’ or SOMETHING!  : )

Until tomorrow morning with a palm in my hand…

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