This low growing violet is a wonder as about two months ago it was under three feet of snow. When the snow melted I found it pitifully crushed and flattened without buds or flowers. And here it is now, this Memorial Day weekend, greeting those who walk along the bluestone path to the chapel.
As if they were hand-painted, notice the short black streaks radiating from the center of each flower and the watercolor like purple edge blending into the yellow. Lovely, heh?
Free association is the first thought or word that comes to our minds in response to some stimuli (what we've seen, tasted, touched, smelled or heard) For me: never say never, don't stay crushed, lean in, with God all things are possible.
Being crushed is something we can all relate to: some tremendous disappointment, worsening health, being over-whelmed with responsibility, the deep sadness of a great loss, exhaustion. The composer of Psalm 143:03 understands. We don't know who the enemy is being referred to here, but it sounds just awful. We can name the crushing enemy for ourselves, but I'd suggest we look deeper than the people around who might be trouble makers. Think inside.
An enemy is in deadly pursuit,
crushing me into the ground,
forcing me to live in darkness,
like those long dead.
My spirit is faint,
and within me my heart is numb with fear.
Poor fellow, we don't know what the burdening sin is in Psalm 38:08, but yes, sin can crush us as well:
My sins stand higher than my head,
they weigh on me as an unbearable weight.
I have stinking, festering wounds,
thanks to my folly.
I am twisted and bent double,
I spend my days in gloom.
But the snow melted, and the violet sprang to life. And for us, we survive and perhaps even flourish out of the crushing pain. Being crushed can make us bitter or it can soften and sensitize us. That's not to say it's easy - I'd suggest the little violet had to expend a great deal of energy to come alive again. I want to congratulate, compliment and honor it when I pass by.
Remember the Gospel account of the rich young man (Matthew 19:16-22) - he wanted eternal life (which starts here and now) but he felt the requirements of Jesus were too much to bear and he went away sad. He is the only person in the Gospel to leave Jesus disappointed. But that account is followed by this:
Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'In truth I tell you, it is hard for someone rich to enter the kingdom of Heaven. Yes, I tell you again, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for someone rich to enter the kingdom of Heaven.' When the disciples heard this they were astonished. 'Who can be saved, then?' they said. Jesus gazed at them, 'Humanly speaking, it is impossible, but with God anything is possible." Matthew 19: 23-26.
Do I believe it?