Monday, May 5, 2014

We must be Hardy on our journey

I was thrilled yesterday when I was driving down the dirt road near my home on the way to Mass and I noticed that a few of the beautiful “May flowers” were in bloom. I think they might be called cowslips or something like that, but I always call them May Flowers because they usually make their appearance in the ditches in early May. This year, I thought they would be “June flowers” because of the unseasonably cold spring, but nonetheless, it’s the first week of May and a few have begun to appear along the road.
For years, these harbingers of spring were always a source of joy, signaling the beginning of a wonderful time of year for me. This year is no exception; if fact, after the incredibly harsh winter, they are even more welcome because I still have yet to see a bud on a tree in my yard. I know that only 30-40 miles south it is a different story, but here, spring is still not arrived in full force….YET!

As I continued on my drive, I pondered these beautiful yellow flowers and the lesson I could learn from them. Over and over again, I heard the words….. “Hardy” and “in spite of”….in my mind and spirit. Hmmm…. Earlier this week when I was perusing some of the flower catalogs that were sent to me in the mail, I kept reading about some of the perennials that caught my eye and the word hardy was used to describe many of them. I learned the hard way many years ago as a novice gardener that I need to plant “hardy” perennials in this northern climate, as opposed to “tender” ones that cannot withstand the subzero temperatures.  Hardy…..hmmm.   The speaker at the Honor’s Breakfast at the college on Friday also used the word hardy in her speech.   Hmm…… and now, I ponder these mayflowers and sense “hardy.”   And so I prayed…..and thought…..and reflected on this word and its meaning to me on my journey.

The dictionary defines hardy as “capable of enduring fatigue, hardship, and exposure”; “strong”; “requiring courage, vigor, and endurance”. Certainly these beautiful mayflowers could be considered hardy. After all, there is NOTHING other than a few blades of grass blooming or budding anywhere around them. In fact, the ditch is flooded over from the recent rains and the current temperature is 29 degrees. And yet….in spite of these harsh conditions…..even when everything around them appears lifeless….these flowers display God’s glory to those who take the time to notice them. Hardy…… a wonderful way to be.  What an attribute….to be able to withstand hardship….to endure…..to be strong….and yet….still blossom and bloom...in spite of.  I want to be “hardy” and yet “tender” at the same time.  And so I prayed……God, make me hardy on this journey. 

Some of you have been experiencing some pretty harsh conditions in this journey we call life. We have group members here who are battling very serious illnesses…..cancer, surgeries, hip replacements, sickness, disability & pain……and YET….you still blossom and bloom and remain positive. YOU are hardy!   We have several here who have lost loved ones in recent months and are coping with grief and loss and all the emotions that come with death.   YOU……are hardy. Others are caring for loved ones who are fighting illness and disease, recovering from surgery, or are coping with depression, and in spite of it…you are being kind, patient, and loving.  YOU, too, are hardy. Each of us who battle to overcome weight, addiction, unhealthy attitudes, habits or behavior….who try each day to be better than the previous one…..who struggle to be kind and gentle….who want to give up, but don’t……are hardy.

Life is not easy. There is beauty and joy hidden within each day, but we all have days when life is tough, especially when we are trying to make positive changes to improve our health and well-being. Unemployment, addiction, broken relationships, struggles, fear, abuse…..you name it……can threaten to rob us of the joy and peace that God desires for us. We struggle; we fall; we are tempted; we fail. We make mistakes….and yet…..we keep trying……we hop…..we endure…..we get up when we fall…….we keep on keeping on…..we trust.  We are “capable of enduring fatigue, hardship, exposure”; “strong”; “requiring courage, vigor, endurance” and, like those beautiful mayflowers, we bloom for the glory of God. My friends, WE ARE HARDY!  Because we are HARDY…we CAN and we WILL change our lives!

Make it a beautiful day!