A New Leaf

Ponderings in Changing Seasons


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My Fickle Heart

It’s Wednesday. In what some call the Week that is Holy.

Now back to Sunday.  In what some call the Sunday of Palms.  It was Holy!  The Sabbath.  The day for doing no work.  Yet, here came Jesus, riding on an unridden colt of a donkey.  Low.  Humble.  And the crowds cheered!  “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the LORD,” they chanted.  Some cut palm fronds and laid them upon the road he would traverse.  Some simply took off their cloaks, their coverings and laid them under His Feet.

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I imagine what that would look like:  the green of the palms, the MANY COLORS of the raiment of the people.  The unison of the crowd calling out their “Hosannas” ~ a sight to behold!

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It was a moment foreshadowed.  Joseph, the favored son of Jacob, had a coat of many colors.  He is famous for it.  But the back story isn’t so pretty!

Joseph was the long-awaited son of Rachel whom Jacob loved.  And Rachel was the long-awaited wife of Jacob for whom he bound himself to Laban, her father, for seven years ~ TWICE!!  You see, Laban’s heart was fickle, calculating.  He promised to give Rachel to Jacob for the indemnity of service for seven years, not uncommon in the days of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  But then he broke his promise, tricked Jacob and instead gave him her older sister Leah in matrimony.  Jacob could not decline this unwed, uncomely sister of His Beloved because of his heart’s desire. He was at the mercy of this merciless one.  And so they were wedded.  And then Jacob worked another seven years for the sake of Rachel.  He obtained the Victory, the Prize for whom he had set his eyes and on whom he had set his heart.

But then, Rachel was barren.  Meanwhile, Leah and her concubine Zilpah were bearing him  sons ~ Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah and eight more.  And Rachel for the solace of her barrenness gave him her concubine, her maid Bilhah to conceive and bear him progeny.  To fill her aching arms with Child.  In that day the child of a concubine was considered the child of the wife.  Still Rachel bore no children.

But one lovely night, deep in the tent of Jacob, love expressed conceived.  And from their union was born the long-awaited child Joseph.  He was to have a little blood brother Benjamin.  Yet Joseph remained the Favored One, the First Born of his Beloved!!  Jacob, his father, gave him a many-colored coat to wear to show Everyone he was SPECIAL!  And he did ~ wear it and wear it and wear it!! (You know how sibling rivalry runs!!  Some flaunt; others become jealous.  And there can be Hell to pay!)

Joseph’s brothers plotted to literally kill him, but Reuben, the eldest, persuaded them just to leave him in a pit to die.  And they told their father a wild animal had killed him, deceived him as he had once deceived his own father Isaac.  (Oh, the generational patterns we weave as we deceive!)

This coat, these colors, these patterns.  Jesus rode a donkey’s colt who trod upon the cloaks of many colors.  He trod upon our jealousies, our deceptive habits, our wanton self-centeredness, our anger and our angst.  He trod upon our depressions and our anxieties.  He trod upon our heartaches, our confusion, our fear.  Color these red and blue and green and yellow and orange and black.  See the green palms ~ LIFE ~ laid in and amongst the many colors.  Hear again the crowd’s loud acclamations of Hope and Hosannas!  Surely NOW! Surely THIS MAN!  Surely MESSIAH had come!

But now it’s Wednesday.  The crowds are silent.  They’ve gone back to their work, their families, their mundane lives.  The Hope has waned.  How intense the passions of the crowd.  It is contagious.  It wanes in solitude.  Our fickle hearts!  My fickle heart!

Tomorrow is what is called Maundy Thursday.  On that day we remember.  We who are Disciples, Christ followers, we take Communion and we remember.  We remember that Jesus washed the feet of His Disciples.  Where the crowds laid down their colorful cloaks, He laid down His Life.

He took the Bread and the Fruit of the Vine of Passover Remembrance and called it His own:  His Body, His Blood.  And He prayed!  And prayed! And prayed!  In the Garden.  It is told that He sweat great drops of Blood as he travailed.  And then:  He was betrayed.  By His friend.

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He was led away without flexing His muscles, without calling all Heaven down in manifestation of His Glory.  He was ridiculed and shamed and beaten and tortured ~ to death!  Where were the crowds then who so acclaimed Him five short days before?  Oh, yes, they still were passionate.  They still cried out in unison.  But now their words were, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” And that generational thing?  These were their words, “His Blood be on us and on our children!”

My fickle heart can quickly change from passionate admiration and loyalty to resentment and resistance.  My fickle heart cries out at one time “Save me! Rescue me from this world of woe. Hosanna!”  Then just as quickly, my fickle heart can switch to “Where are You? Why have You not done NOW what I wanted?” and it bleeds out in moodiness and stubbornness and self-focus. Those around me are the recipients of my angst!

He came to call me from my brokenness into His Wholeness.  He came to offer me Mercy and Grace.

He came to save my fickle heart.  He, the Favored One of the Father, came to give me Favor!

And so on this quiet Wednesday, again I sing:  

Hosanna, Hosanna!   Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the LORD!                                                                                               


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De Colores

I have just a small hankering for color!  Now, don’t you believe that for a moment!  My hankering is for LOTS of COLOR in lots of places.

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Take, for instance, the Spring!  The time after Barrenness.  The time after the Big Chill.  Now if Spring isn’t a time and a place for COLOR, I don’t know when or where is!!

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I’ve been marinating myself in COLOR for nearly a month now.  There was the first spotting of them setting out  flowering annuals at the local grocery.  The Big Box Store, it seemed, burst into bloom at the same instant.

It was marvelous!  One moment, there were drab brick walls and plain sidewalks and fenced gates; the next moment, bright red, vivid yellow and winsome blues were interspersed with tangerine and white and lavender.  Green herbs of all sizes, shapes and scents called invitingly to be chosen for Dishes yet-to-be-created.  For me, Spring had Sprung into action.

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My daily yard walk-arounds have revealed striking changes overnight!  I love to find the first little plant poking its tentative sprout up through the still very cold soil.  Then, as Sun begins to warm the days, more and more sprouts give rise to more and more green shoots reaching for the sky and its golden orb.  The hues conjure up in my mind an Irish mural in a palette of forty shades of green, all which color the landscape of the Emerald Isle.

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Once the red buds and pear trees and lilac bushes, the dogwood ~ pink or white ~ begin to put forth their flowers, it is confirmed.  I know that finally the long, dreary days of Winter have passed.  What seemed forever dead is alive again!

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When I was a young mother with small daughters, my parents went on a three-day cloistered retreat called Cursillo in the Catholic Church or Walk to Emmaus in the Protestant.  They were smitten with the experience, literally meaning “A Little Course in Christ.”  They encouraged both my husband and me to make our own Emmaus Walks, where the Risen Christ is revealed just as He was revealed to His sorrowing Disciples walking along beside Him, unrecognized, going from Jerusalem to Emmaus after His Crucifixion.*  We did go ~ now so long ago.  It was the 1980’s, though I’m told that in 2014, Cursillo and the Emmaus Walks continue.

Many traditions have grown up in this deeply spiritual, highly creative, and eternally impacting weekend with “small lessons” which cover the foundation and doctrines of our Christian Faith.  One of those powerful traditions is the singing, accompanied by guitar, of a song borrowed from the Hispanic culture called De Colores.  Those singing it together are reminded of the colors of the earth, the colors of the rainbow above, the colors refracted in a diamond, and in the birds and the flowers and the roosters and the cluck hens and the baby chicks, the colors all of which summon us to love and to celebrate the many-faceted colors of personality and faces in human-kind.

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When the COLORS burst forth every Spring, I am reminded once again of the expanse of love and acceptance I felt on my Walk.  It is as if that cocoon of 72 hours was not an isolated experience.  Rather, it was a glimpse of True Reality ~ the reality of Eternity and the opportunity we each are given to choose to receive Jesus.  Through Him, we can know we are loved, forgiven, and welcomed by the Father ~ FOREVER!

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De Colores ~ It’s not just a simple folk song!  No, it is a Story of The Father’s Love for ALL of His Creation ~ from the wee little ones to the great big ones, from the flowers of the field to the creatures of the sea to the bird and the butterfly emancipated from gravity to fly free.  The Colors speak of God’s Creative Love and Power.  The Colors, they call me, they woo me to draw ever closer to Him.

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* Luke 24:13-35