Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Were Things Really Ever Green?

"In the midst of winter, I learned that
there is in me an invincible summer."
                           --Albert Camus

I remember Carlyle Marney the great preacher saying that what we all need is a bucketful of hope. Some days watching the news and listening to the commentators my heart sinks. Why are people so mean to each other? Why are so many of our elected officials acting like whining babies? Foreclosures, people who have lost their jobs or been downsized, wondering if we will ever get a Health Care Bill and if we do--will it just be a monstrosity. We haven't  even gottten around to this war which seems endless.

It was in such a setting that God's people first began to reckon with hope. A dove came back after the terrible waters of the flood had swept everything away--and that dove came with a olive branch in her mouth--and old Noah knew that the waters had gone down and life could begin again.  Frederick Buechner once said if Paul were writing today he would change the sequence of those words in First Corinthians. Instead of : "faith, hope and love but the greatest of these is love"...he would now say "faith, hope and love but the greatest of these is hope."

Years ago Temp Sparkman, a minister lost his little daughter to leukemia. In  his terrible grief he penned these words that I keep coming back to.

Was the grass really ever green
Were the sounds of birds really clearly heard
And did we picnic in the park only six short months ago
Here in mid-winter they seem so far away
The naked trees, the leaden skies seem always to have been
Were things really ever green
And will spring come back again? 

Yes, spring will return
The gray, dull days of cold will pass
The routine now imprisoning us will be broken up
A nerw excitement will be awakened by new possibilities
The despair which now engulfs us will subside
A word of hope will come to us
Our presumption that all is lost will be replaced
  by a newed expectancy
Future will become a possibillity again
The crush of demand will not dominate us forever
Out of liberation we will learn to choose
And in our choices be secure.

The sadness now weighing upon us will be lifted
Joy will speak her acknowledgement of grief and 
   will sound her call to us
The cause of sadness will not have vanished
But joy will come in spite of it
We will laugh again
We will sing and dance
We will celebrate the life now given us.

The conflicts now engaging our energy
  will be worked through
No wind will sweep them from us
We will go through them

And we will survive
Redemption will come of our transactions
Relationships will be rescued and restored
And where breaks are too deep to be one,
Healing will come in time, though apart
The tensions tearing at our being will be resolved
We will not be destroyed.

Were things really ever green
And will the spring come back again
Yes, yes as sure as e're it were here
Yes, yes as sure as winter's here
Yes, yes, as sure as God is
The spring will return
And it will be green again.


  1. Roger,
    Sparkman's poem is just too good. Thanks for your words.