update: as of this posting on Thursday night, Nov 5th, still no settled presidential election.
I am writing this on the morning of All Saints, sitting in front of the fire with a cup of coffee at my side and a cat at my feet. It’s pretty idyllic.
I am writing this on Sunday-before-my-Friday-publish-date because I have a busy week ahead, but even more, because I want to get this message “on paper” before the election. My guess is that come Friday, November 6th, we may not have conclusive results from the national election. And I worry about what havoc may ensue this week in the midst of that uncertainty. Some of our clergy are taking training tonight in methods of offering a non-violent response to group unrest. And others of our clergy have been talking about opening their church buildings as places of quiet refuge in the week to come (with safe distancing, of course). I grieve for our country in its division and rancor and I pray for our healing.
Early this past summer I started a deck-garden. Our big, woodland garden is well established and lovely with its quiet, shade loving perennials- hosta, ivys, bleeding hearts, mayapples- but I wanted a little touch of color close to the house. A parishioner had mailed me some flower seeds at the beginning of Covid- a beautiful, optimistic gesture- and so I used those and some other seeds and plants that I bought to sow into large pots on the back porch. The marigolds sprouted right away and within weeks, it seemed, their burnished orange and bright yellow blossoms were overflowing the sides of the pots. Other plants that I had purchased as seedlings- lantana, petunias and geraniums- also took off and bloomed day after day, giving a lovely display of reds, pinks, and purples just out my door. I also planted cosmos. I love cosmos for its height, feathery foliage and vivid colors. It sprouted right away, in a big planter that wintered over with some small succulents and some errant parsley. It grew tall. Really tall. And feathery. Really feathery. But no flowers. Not even a bud.
I felt like I had lit a firecracker dud.
I watched that cosmos all season. It got taller by the minute, but while its neighbors were budding and blooming and showing off their colors, the cosmos kept quiet.
I began to lose hope.
And then I lost hope.
We had a light frost. I brought the geraniums in to winter over. I got out the wheelbarrow and emptied the pots of soggy annuals into its well and had a little funeral cortege all the way to the compost heap at the far end of our property. As I made my way out there, I walked past spent berry bushes, tripped over hundreds of fallen black walnuts, and made a mental note of fallen boughs that needed to be cut up for firewood.
I dumped the annuals on the pile.
But for some reason, the cosmos, while unflowering, hadn’t folded. They were not soggy, they had not succumbed to the frost. They were, in fact, standing tall. And as I inspected them, guess what?
“…Take hold of the hope set before us (so that we) may be greatly encouraged.
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”
(Hebrews 6: 18b, 19)
On that day, hope was in the bud of a flower, but, of course, hope is really in our Lord, Jesus Christ.
I felt a fool.
I wondered how many other times I had lost hope- in God- not just in a silly annual – and had been similarly shown my foolishness.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.
These are tough times. We are in the middle of a pandemic. Our country is a mess. We cannot lose hope.
I pray for my own strength of faith, knowing that wavering faith is part of being human. And, yet, I pray,
[Immediately the father of the child] cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
How about you?