From All Things New
God has been declaring the promise of the Great Renewal faithfully, repeatedly, through nature since the dawn of time. How have we missed it? Creation is no accident; it is a proclamation. A wild, bold declaration. (This will rescue you from so many things; pay very close attention.) Every spring and summer God plays out for us the day of the Great Restoration with wild, splashy boldness. It meant more to me this year than ever before.
The-year-I-wish-to-never-live-again also included nine months of chronic pain for Stasi, which ended in a total hip replacement (a brutal surgery I won’t describe here). Following the surgery I spent two very long days in the hospital at her side. Hospitals are melancholy places. Don’t get me wrong – they can also be places of immense relief and hope. I think the people who serve there have taken a heroic stand on the side of hope. But let’s be honest – on the user side, no one is there because they want to be, unless they are there to have a baby; they are there because something is wrong, often very wrong. People don’t play pickup games of Frisbee in the halls of hospitals, you don’t hear folks loudly cracking jokes. The corridors are filled with hushed tones and a shared sobriety. Apart from the maternity floor, the staff, patients, and concerned visitors all agree: This is serious business. Somebody could be dying in that room you just walked by.
After what felt like a week in a hospital room with my dear love, I slipped into that mental space where you think this is all there is in the world – monitors going off all day long, staff coming in and out with urgency, the stupor of drug-induced rest, the IV and cold rooms and artificial everything. I left her room at five thirty to go grab us some dinner, and as I stepped outside I was washed over by a wave of summer evening. It was wonderfully warm; my body relaxed immediately. My eyes blinked to take in the colors. I saw cumulus clouds building towers for their evening show. Meadowlarks across the field were singing and singing. The aspens were shimmering in a gentle breeze; the rich scents of summer flowers enveloped me. I was suddenly immersed in all the wonderful fragrances and feelings of life in its summer lushness.
It was like experiencing the palingenesia.
Summer is God’s annual pageant on behalf of the restoration of all things, all nature practically shouting at us because we are tone deaf. That’s why we love it so much. We pack up the car and head to the lake or the park; we break out the grill and have friends over, laughing late into the starlit evening; we dive into waters and bake in the sun, and in this way we get a good, deep drink of Restoration. It’s no coincidence the classic surfing road-trip film is entitled, The Endless Summer. I’m telling you, the message is everywhere.
God is trying to do two things with the promise in the Earth and in our hearts: he is trying to woo us into hopeful expectation, and he is attempting to lift our gaze to the horizon so we might live for the real thing that is coming.
To be sure, it feels wintry enough still: but often in the very early spring it feels like that. The spring comes down slowly down this way; but the great thing is that the corner has been turned. There is, of course, this difference, that in the natural spring the crocus cannot choose whether it will respond or not. We can. We have the power either of withstanding the spring, and sinking back into the cosmic winter, or of going on into these “high midsummer pomps” in which our leader, the Son of Man, already dwells, and to which he is calling us. It remains with us to follow or not, to die in this winter, or to go on into that spring and that summer. (C. S. Lewis)
We have quite a stunning present to unpack, dear readers, and chapters to do it some justice. But we must prepare our hearts to receive such a gift, or it will wash over us like rain on hard ground.