It’s time for a field trip if you are a school-aged child. That’s because the end of the school year is in sight, you have probably got a bad case of the wiggles, and there is still field trip money available for your teacher to use —not only to combat all that energy, but also to enrich your educational experiences.
With that in mind, it is fitting that we take a short trip of our own. Let’s go now, in-between the soft showers of rain that annoy families watching their children play soccer and baseball, but delight the seedlings in our gardens.
Grab some comfortable shoes and a hooded jacket, just in case. Now walk toward a grove of trees, the kind that bathe our Pacific Northwest home in grandeur. Step carefully among the young ferns unfurling their arms like babies do in the morning. And do not worry if you dislodge a mother bird from her nest. We will not be long and she will return, for her commitment to hatch her brood goes well beyond her momentary scare.
Take in the damp air smelling faintly of evergreen and feast your eyes on the trees. Just look at all the shades of green! There is new growth everywhere, so rejoice! When your heart fills with gratitude and joy falls from your lips, you bring love into your world.
Now look closely at the tips of the evergreens; the place where we can detect evidence of spring’s growth. It is a much lighter, brighter green. And the needles are so very soft it is worth reaching out to feel those ends.
The best part of our field trip rests right here, as those soft, green ends brush between our fingers: God has touched us today and we have taken notice.
This is one of the ways I know God is with you and me. He brings change to our world and tucks gentle messages inside those changes. We must step away from our busyness and take a moment to be quiet, and look. We must attune our hearts to those potential messages — those great life lessons —and apply them once we return from our momentary excursions.
I know that God can speak with a roar. Just turn to the Old Testament section of your Bible and read about the plagues God sent upon the Egyptians when they enslaved the Jews. The brutal immensity of his message leaves no doubt he was intervening in the lives of man.
But we also learn from the Bible that God is gentle. And his personal message to us this week can be seen, in all places, at the tips of the trees. He produces growth in both the oldest and youngest of trees — as well as in us.
It is never too late. The potential is ever present. And that growth, when God produces it, is always bright and beautiful and soft.
His message brings great relief to most of us who fear we are too insignificant to demand his notice. It also comes to those of us who wonder if He is finished with us, out of frustration with our fears and our laziness.
Now look up to see all of those trees that are scarred and bent. Some have had their tops knocked out by wind and snow. Some have even been pushed over at some point and not only grow along the ground, but seem to have gained the strength to reach upward once again, toward the sky.
Still other trees have yet to show evidence of their growth. Each limb has a casing on the end housing that bright, new growth. For today we can merely see the potential. But you can bet that in a day or two, you will see that the new growth has burst forth — if you take the time to look.
It is all about timing, known only to God and produced by God, himself. So let us end our jaunt into the forest’s edge — and into the edge of greater understanding — by uttering a prayer for ourselves today. It is OK, you know, to ask things for yourself.
You promise in the Bible that your love
will never end. So please demonstrate that love
by beginning a work in me that is soft
and fresh and green. Create in me a work that my family,
and friends, and coworkers can see.
A work that comes from You, and only You.