Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Of Falling Buckeyes and Buds in Winter

In shades of winter white, the buckeye tree waits, hushed and still. It stands outwardly dead and cold in the rain and mist that drapes it in a pale shroud.  A fleeting moment of diffused sunlight touches the almond-colored bark and it brightens coolly.

A few tenacious buckeyes cling stubbornly to the tree, not ready to fall . . . not just yet.

The buckeye tree speaks to me in the days leading up to the turn of the calendar that drops the final leaves and buckeyes on the old year.

2010 has been more than I ever expected . . . and less.

It has been MORE . . .

. . . busy,
. . . rewarding,
. . . painful,
. . . terrifying,
. . . trying,
. . . victorious,
. . . grace-infused,
. . . celebratory,
. . . people-full
. . . and love-soaked than I knew it would be.

It has been LESS . . .

. . . plentiful,
. . . complicated,
. . . home-bound,
. . . sad,
. . . distant,
. . . tentative,
. . . fear-driven than it might have been.

I am thankful for all the bad things that could have happened, but didn't.

I am thankful for all the good things that didn't have to go right, but did.

I am more-than-I-can-say THANKFUL for God's protection over the lives of my family this year!

While there were many things I would have written differently in the story of 2010, gratitude is uppermost in my mind as I look back at how God has kept us closely in His loving care for the last 12 months.  There have been splashes of glowing green leaves and warm bright light this year, for which I am deeply grateful, but in many ways this has been a year of winter whites, sparse and stripped down to essentials, the fourth in a series of years of trial and struggle. Now it is almost time for the last buckeye pod to open, releasing the beautiful polished-wood seeds within, hopefully to produce the trees they are destined to become, job finished, mission accomplished.

Cycles completing and cycles renewing, simultaneous life and death, beginning and ending. As the old year releases and falls away, the next cycle has already begun to open the fresh and tender bud of the new year.

The calendar year turns for us in the Northern Hemisphere in the middle of winter.  Even here in California where the rain turns everything a springy green, the leafless trees tell us it's winter.  When they are bare and naked against the winter white sky the buds stand out in stark contrast to the death all around.

What will this yet-to-be-opened budding new year bring?

Sometimes I refuse to give myself permission to expect the best from it--circumstances in the world, and an extended time of difficulty these last few years put a bit of damper on my usual optimism.  Other times I think, "Surely this will be the year of our turning!"  The truth is, I cannot see what is contained in the bud of the year 2011, but I know Who goes ahead of me into it and Whom I can trust to guide and carry me through it.
"The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV
If you are facing the coming year with fear and uncertainty, please be encouraged in knowing that you are not alone.  Many, many people are feeling the same way.  I pray that you will know Him in new and deepening ways this year and that He will calm all your fears with nothing less than Himself.  I pray that Deuteronomy 31:8 will come alive for you personally as you experience the LORD going before you!  I pray that this will be the year of our turning, both individually and as a nation, and that this time next year we will have many joys and victories to thank God for!

How did you experience God going before you in 2010?
How does that comfort and encourage you going into 2011?

P.S.  To my readers--Thank you for sticking with me through my year of interruptions.  Thank you to everyone who gave me the gift of a comment--your encouragement is precious beyond measure.  I wish each and every one of you a most Blessed New Year!!


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