Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Signs of Life

As winter lingers on here in North Carolina, I've really started to miss my old office at the University of Richmond. Not because it was warm and cozy- in fact, my officemate can testify to how closely she hovered to our extra space heater on the coldest of days. No, the thing I miss is the walk from my car to the door right around this time of year. It was the first place in all of Richmond where I'd  get a reminder that no matter how tired you are of the winter dreariness and icy rain, that spring is indeed coming. You see, right around the beginning and middle of February, those first little crocuses would pop out of the ground, sometimes even blooming through a snowfall. Purple, yellow, white- little buds of life that provided just the boost I needed to get through that last month of cloudy days and frigid nights.

This year, in the midst of a winter that has felt a little more blustery than usual, I'm longing for those crocuses. I'm longing for what follows them, for months of digging deep in the mud, coaxing forth life from the earth, enjoying the aesthetic bounty of blooms from bulbs planted last fall and waiting eagerly to be able to plant the vegetables that will feed my family and friends this summer.

While waiting for this elusive spring, each week on campus this semester I've been taking a prayer walk. Mostly, God has been leading me to pray for the racial situation on the campus I'm on. Hundreds of years of racial tension, much of which has never been dealt with, have culminated in what feels like a largely apathetic student body when it comes to this issue.  I wonder how many students are actively thinking about the issues of race and multiethnicity in the church or exploring their own racial identity?  I know that when I got to college, I certainly wasn't thinking about these things.  No one had ever asked me about it and I'd had almost no experiences in my life that caused me to question my own understanding of racial identity. I was "privileged" to grow up without even having to engage the questions. I'm glad that changed in college and beyond and that these issues have become such a big part of my journey with God.  As I've been walking this campus I've been wondering what it is that God is up to and hoping for encounters with students who want to engage it.

As I was walking the campus earlier today, I felt drawn over to the botanical gardens on campus.  It is no small thing to be working on a campus where I can detour to any meeting through a beautiful garden, possibly even dancing Sound-of-Music style through the arboretum tunnel, which I'm almost always tempted to do. But as I walked around and was praying for this campus that God has placed me on, I began to be aware of little signs of life in the flora around me.  A small forsythia bud here, a daffodil spear there and even a number of small pink blossoms on a cherry tree. God reminded me right then that no matter what I don't see happening on campus, that He is always at work under the soil and that there are always these little signs of life to behold.  Immediately my prayers turned to ones of thankfulness- for the conversations that I have had with students, for the privilege of being a staff on a racially diverse campus, for the multiethnicity life group that's having these conversations on a weekly basis, for the opportunities my students have to interact with these questions in their classes and for the myriad other prayers being prayed over this campus by people who are grateful for God's work and excited for what He has for the future here.

It's amazing how even the tiniest glimpse of color can change your whole perspective on the day. What was a frustrated cry to see change quickly became a humbling reminder of God's power.  If the scrawniest pink bloom can force it's way out in the dead of winter, I am reminded that, with God, anything can happen.  

No comments:

Post a Comment