Is it Fall Yet?
Of course it always comes, season follows season just as the sun rises every day whether we can actually see it or not. But one feels a tiny bit wary of trusting completely - the seasons seem just slightly askew, out of whack just a tad. The polar ice melts, there's a hole in the ozone layer, the snows of Kilimanjaro are predicted to be the snows of yesteryear soon. Just as I can no longer totally trust my body to do what I always used to take for granted, might the earth's rhythms also be faltering ever so slightly?
No wonder it's so hard to have real faith in God - faith in what we cannot see or know completely. We can hardly have faith in anything - we are let down, things fall apart, the centre does not hold. We are let down by so many things - people, systems, ideologies. Someone put their own interests above mine, someone left me holding the bag, someone didn't show up. Many of us are frustrated about many things, and the heart of our frustration (if we can let go of the anger part) is usually disappointment. We had hopes, and they were dashed.
I've been reading Isaiah, that wonderful prophetic book in which disaster and hope are ever presented side-by-side; there is certain disaster and yet always there is hope - a stump, a remnant, light, cool springs. But first, yes, the disaster.
And so how do we hold on to faith in the face of disappointment (why didn't God answer my prayers?), dissolution (what happened to my marriage?), disaster (why did I lose my job and what if I don't get another one? why is there war? why did my beloved die?)? How do we let ourselves feel disappointment, which is inevitable but not fatal, without moving directly either into anger or depression? How do we live in hope instead of lashing out in frustration or sinking into the mire of defeatedness?
It it a significant stretch to connect the disappointment that it's still so hot and dry here in the Southeast with the disaster that was the destruction of Jerusalem, but what I'm really concerned with is that problem of trust. Trusting that the seasons will follow the seasonal rules; trusting that God will make good on God's promises. Sometimes it appears that neither is happening - the natural world experiences disturbances, and so does our spiritual world. How much of what happens to us is natural process and how much is true disaster?
No answers here. But the prophet attests to the hope that is always there, just in the next breath. The hope of the olive branch, the hope of the rainbow, the hope of the child, the hope of the overflowing vineyard, the hope of the breath of God that animates all.