23 May 2013

it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood [some thoughts on spring in the city]

I think the city - and the world, really - is at its best in the spring. Hard rains wash away the salty grime of winter. People head outside into the warmth and call across the busy streets about how beautiful the weather is.

I never realized before that spring is my favorite season, but it is. All winter I store up the possibilities and potentialities I see in my yard, my closet, our community and the people in it I know and love. Spring always brings some of them to at least a beginning, or a new freshness, of not to total fruition.

But I think the best thing about spring is that it makes it impossible to deny that there is hope - even for the ugly, the dark and the dirty. After the darkness and cold and loneliness of winter - just when we think we can't make it any longer - a crocus or two will poke its head through the snow! A birdie will start chirping early one morning! The sun will keep shining after dinner one evening! One night, you're warm enough without your electric blanket being on!

All of these things I've always loved, but this year another thought occurred to me: all of the dead things around us coming back to life - trees, grass, flowers - they have no idea they live in what is supposedly one of the fastest dying cities in America.

They're just ALIVE, and so they MUST burst forth in color and light and sound and smell - and bring with them the joy that comes only from rebirth. They make what was ugly and dank and old - beautiful and fresh and new.

If only it lasted. Eventually spring turns to summer - it started to this week as we waited for rain, and schools let out today - and the city gets hot, dusty, faded, lazy. People get hot and cranky, and the unhealthiness and brokenness starts to show again. So there are shootings, and angry arguments in the night, and general craziness.

We need spring and the hope and new chances it brings - but we need Jesus more.
We need revitalization in our neighborhood - but we need it from the Holy Spirit, not our neighborhood association.
We need a sense of community instead of division - but we need it as a result of healing from and unity in Jesus, who is himself our peace.
We need a spring of the soul, to be made so ALIVE that we burst forth like the buds on the trees. The spring outside reminds me that what was once dead can and will be made alive again.

“This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: 
Not by might, nor by power, 
but by my Spirit, 
says the Lord of hosts." [Zechariah 4:6]