Lenten Meditation by Steve Braun
Utter devastation. That is what happened when Hurricane Fran dealt a direct hit on Raleigh in September of 1996. For Raleigh, the City of Oaks, Fran caused unprecedented destruction. We were unfamiliar with the scale although the tornado of 1989 gave us plenty of feel for what nature could wreak.
Nature and life can do other things as well. A good friend related a story to me in late spring of 1997 about one such act of nature. We were mourning the many trees that were lost and quite incredulous that dump trucks were still – nine months later – carting away tree-debris to one of the designated sites. He related what a friend had noticed…recognized. His friend had been hiking through familiar woods where Fran had felled many a majestic tree. His friend became aware with delight that he was seeing many more wild flowers than before in these same woods. Although losing the trees was a genuine injury, it was followed by new life – extravagant rebirth!
About the time my friend told me this story, I was embarking into an unknown. I had resigned from a company after twelve years, deciding to take some time off to see where life would lead. I claimed the story of the wild flowers for my journey. The tree – my long-familiar job – had been felled. Now, what wild flowers would grow in its place? As it turned out, many grew and others keep gracing me along my way. Extravagant rebirth! I shudder, now almost eight years hence, to think of the wild flowers I would have missed had it not been for the felling of my “tree.”
On the occasion of the most grand of my wild flowers blooming – marriage to my wife, Ruth – our minister, Ted Purcell quoting another said, “Hope is still alive. Despair is presumptuous; it hasn’t all happened yet.” It is hard when we are in the moment of despair to have hope or remember that our story is not over. Yet it’s important to say with the psalmist, “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” And to let the writer of Hebrews encourage us with, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Then, our story not being over yet, we can one day soon wake up to the surprise of extravagant rebirth…the wild flowers of life!
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