In our Feb 2nd service I shared a meditation from the Rev. Elizabeth Tarbox in which she said, “Creation gives us snow.” Well, that may be true, but I am also very hopeful that by the time you read this message, we will be well beyond the worst of this winter’s snow. Right now, writing in mid-February, I’m looking out my window at somewhere in the vicinity of two feet of snow on the ground, and much higher piles that have resulted from my seemingly endless shoveling and snow blowing. I feel, at times, that I’m losing track of days because so many events have been cancelled and re-scheduled, and the kids have had so much time off from school. With heart-felt apologies to any skiers and winter-sports lovers in the congregation, I’m ready for an end to this year’s winter weather.
Creation gives us snow—especially here in New England—but it also gives us seasons. Not just winter, spring, summer and fall—though those are important and beautiful, each in their own way—but seasons of our lives. While transitions between the seasons of the year happen very naturally and usually right on schedule, I’ve observed that the seasons of our lives can come with a little more difficulty. It may be a cliché, but I think it’s worth naming from time to time: we don’t always transition gracefully from life season to life season.
Our March ministry theme is surrender. This has been one of my favorite sermon themes over the years, and I’m looking forward to raising questions about the place of surrender in our spiritual lives. Creation gives us snow, but winter inevitably surrenders to spring’s thaw, which in turn surrenders to summer’s heat, and on and on. It strikes me that any transition we make in our lives involves a certain amount of surrender. I suppose we are always at some level surrendering certain aspects of our prior years in order to live more gracefully in the coming years. For example, watching one’s children come into adulthood requires a parent to surrender their role as primary caregiver. I know no parent who has gone through this process and not encountered some internal challenge surrendering their old life to make room for the new one.
Part of what it means to be wise is having an understanding of what is and isn’t possible. We gain wisdom as we surrender our attachments to dreams that, it turns out, weren’t practical. I’m not suggesting that we abandon all our impractical dreams, especially if they still call to us. Certainly the world needs dreamers of impractical dreams. But I am suggesting that as we look back over our lives, we will likely see that we have made choices along the way. And often those choices involved surrendering some earlier dream of what our lives could be. I think about my own adolescent and young adult dream of becoming a rock star. (By the way, before that it was becoming a professional baseball player; and for a few brief moments in college I dreamed of becoming a politician.) Somewhere along the way I chose a different path. Somewhere along the way I surrendered. I feel sad recalling this. But I also know there was wisdom in surrendering.