Now that the snow has gone, the sand, flung hard and wide from the trucks rumbling past the house in the wee winter hours, lay beached on the front lawn.
It was a gravelly mess.
I could not sweep my rake wide and smooth like I do when I am raking leaves.
I had to work short, hard strokes in the same place. Over and over again the rake plunged tines until the sand and pebbles were brought out of the ground and I could see blades of new grass.
I was in a lament.
Because it was a task that I least favor.
I will collect dead branches. I will clean out flower beds and turn mulch piles.
I will spend days in the back yard burning winter’s dross. I will even rake piles of pine needles.
These are the labors that fall into the normal rhythm of a New England spring cleaning.
I did not, however, ask for gravel.
I did not ask my town’s road crew to spread what may have been an overly amount of road salt and sand this winter.
I did not ask for hard pebbles that blanketed the tulip bed suffocating tender shoots.
I did not ask for the bits of road tar thrown from a plow’s blade into the lilies poking past dirt.
I did not ask for the needed scraping that is required for life to emerge from the gravel places.
So I lamented.
Lament is not the selfish, singular, soulish complaint of ingratitude and entitlement.
It is the complaining prayer of the Jesus follower.
Our lament leans into God because we believe He is leans into us.
Lament is married to hope.
I lamented because I needed grace and strength for the task at hand because this spring I just wasn’t up to it. I was lacking what it takes to see past the unlovely to the loveliness of what could be.
I was lacking the strength and desire needed to clean up somebody else’s mess.
For the green anything good to breathe sometimes what is needed is the hard work of kneeling, of bending low to get all of the debris that chokes.
See, it is hope that says there is life under all that junk.
There is life under the pebbly bad attitudes and gravelly retorts.
There are tender shoots hidden, reaching reaching reaching past the debris of apathy.
Lamenting pours out and He pours in the encouragement of the keep on going.
So when the first blades of green emerged hope surged.
Even after the gravel burial, even after a shroud of sand, the lawn appeared almost breathing.
I was breathing, too; hard, tired and smiling because He did it again.
He brings me to the dirt, the hard landscape of things, to show me Him.