Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Tender Shoot

My, how things have changed since January.  

Metaphorically and concretely, we are emerging from a deep, dark, frozen winter and begin our transformation to spring.  Daylight, a touch of warmth in the breeze, and my favorite.... green shoots pushing away the saturated,, muck-covered earth to deeply breathe the freshness of the air and to reach toward the warmth of the sun.

I love the way these tender-appearing shoots can shove aside the wet, laden compost of winter, laying claim to this side of the soil.  Refusing to remain stifled by the weight of darkness or obstacle, they stubbornly poke through and proclaim rebirth, freshness, and joy.

Reminds me of Isaiah 53...
        He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
       and like a root out of dry ground.

A similar transformation occurs in JSB and I welcome this emergence with gratitude.

Before he entered the hospital and began to accept treatment, he was barely recognizable.  His descent into the underground of psychosis and delusion left me feeling despondent and helpless.  I cannot imagine what a hellish nightmare it was for him.  He was buried alive by his misfiring brain and completely disconnected from us and reality.  I wanted to reach through the quicksand of his illness and pull him back to me. 

So, here's my confession.  I had nearly lost all hope and was beginning to believe that only death could free him from this hideous torment.  He was well on the way to leaving this earth.   If he had not been hospitalized, I know that would have been the outcome.

But, there were different plans for JSB, thank God.  He is coming back to us.  Slowly and tentatively.  He still has schizophrenia.  It's not a "cure" we witness, but it most definitely  "healing."  There are limitations and a continued need for support, but there is connection, love, and a ripe potential.

I don't believe that it is a coincidence that he comes back to us during the springtime-- during Lent.  It is a time of preparation and reflection, of turning away from that which separates us from God, in order to fully experience the joy of the resurrection of Christ.  It's moving away from brokenness towards wholeness.

As I write and reflect on the latest in this journey with JSB, I am carried back many years to a time when he was about five-years-old.  He had already struggled with the beginning pangs of illness and the church knew and understood.  The Easter service began in the blackness of Good Friday - in darkness and bleakness.  

And then, as we sang Christ the Lord Is Risen Today, several members of the congregation processed bearing Easter lilies.  Like the tender shoots of spring, they burst through the darkness bearing beauty.  Bearing joy.

JSB was one of them, little kindergartner just beginning a very, very difficult life path, beaming and carrying his Easter Lily to decorate the altar.  To transform it from death to birth.  To resurrection and new life.

Thanks, God, for reminding me of that today.  And, please, continue to cover JSB with your blessing and protection.

He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
       and like a root out of dry ground.
       He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
       nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
 3 He was despised and rejected by men,
       a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
       Like one from whom men hide their faces
       he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
 4 Surely he took up our infirmities
       and carried our sorrows,
       yet we considered him stricken by God,
       smitten by him, and afflicted.
 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
       he was crushed for our iniquities;
       the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
       and by his wounds we are healed.
 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
       each of us has turned to his own way;
       and the LORD has laid on him
       the iniquity of us all. 
Isaiah 53:2-6
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