Thursday, June 19, 2008

Polished by Life's Storms

For Christmas this year Dan bought me a beautiful necklace from a little shop I love in downtown Rockville, MD. It has a simple gold leaf pattern covering a silver rectangle with a quote engraved in the metal. It reads, "The most beautiful stones have been washed by the waters and polished to brilliance by life's strongest storms."

Last night after everyone else was asleep I heard Danica stirring. I went in to check on her, and I did something I never do. I scooped her up and snuggled and rocked her. Not because she needed to be comforted or held but because I needed to be close to her. As I sniffed her sweet baby head and kissed it softly while she slept on my shoulder I began to think about the seasons of life. I have learned so many amazing lessons the past year, but one of the greatest has been about this very thing. The wisdom from Ecclesiastes 3 could not be more true. I could not remember all the verses, although I had committed them to memory many years ago, and so this morning I rushed down to read the passage again which so perfectly described the ebbs and flows in our lives.

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away; A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace.

Many times I fear we see the storms of life and the winters of our souls merely as periods to be endured. What I learned through this past year and my own fierce storm is that God wants us to be just as present and as grateful for those dark seasons. Often they bear the most fruit in the end. The most eminent researcher in the field of gratitude, Richard Emmons, reflects on decades of study and concludes: “The more I study gratitude, the more I have come to believe that an authentic, deeply held sense of gratefulness toward life may require some degree of contrast or deprivation. One truly appreciates a mild spring after a harsh winter, a gourmet meal following a fast….Some blessings are not known until they are lost.

I held my daughter and reflected on the pain and sacrifice which began almost exactly a year ago to bring her into this world (my kidney failed on June 29th, 2007). I thought of the pure joy and love she blesses our lives with today. I thought of the daily choice I make to do without material gain to spend these amazing moments with her as she becomes. Just as the storm ended so the spring of her life will pass all too quickly. I will go back to work fulltime, and we will pay off the bills, repair our credit and move on. Or perhaps there will be another storm waiting for us on the horizon to teach us even more about how much we already have and how little else we really need. But I have today, this perfect moment in time when the season is just right. A season that answers the doubt and fear and pain with a resounding "YES!"

Thank you for the polishing power of Your perfect plan for my life. I praise you for the seasons of my heart and life continually pruning and watering the simple abundance you planted there.

1 comment:

SuzyQ said...

What a beautiful analogy.
So touching and true.
Gratitude is hard won sometimes isn't it.
Blessings to you today.
Suzy