Scripture Text: Isaiah 35: 1-2
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus 2it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God.
Our walk in the wilderness has grown tiresome already. As far as we can look, there is desolation, drought, and despair. When is this going to end already? (Sorry…not even a third of the way there!) But this passage is almost an interruption. We thought had it in our minds what the wilderness was. For us, the wilderness is a place to get through, to complete, to endure, a pathway to somewhere else. But maybe we’re not giving the wilderness the credit that it is due. After all, would God have created a complete wasteland with no redeeming qualities, no chance for hope? That’s not really God’s style. Maybe we’ve missed something. Maybe we’re trying so hard to overcome the wilderness and run through it, we’ve missed its beauty.
God does not wait until everything in order and the time is right to spring beauty into action. Every inch of creation, every wasteland we endure, has God’s fingerprints all over it. Every single piece is awash in God’s grace, even those whose beauty we cannot yet see either because our eyes have not adjusted to the light or because we have been clouded over with the old way of seeing. Can you see it? Or are we too busy rushing through it hoping that it will end? God’s voice is often out of place with what we see and know about the world. And yet, the desert wasteland is rejoicing in bloom. The passage says that the crocuses (maybe it’s croci) are blossoming abundantly, rejoicing with joy and singing. They abound with the glory of the Lord. We just have to give the wilderness a chance.
Maybe our problem is that we don’t trust first appearances. We want something that is tried and true, that perhaps has been around awhile and weathered all the tests. We want something that makes sense. But this crocus pops up first. It is a first creation. And we’re not sure what to do. Is it a weed? Is it a flower? What do I do with it? It is God’s newness that at first glance seems to look a little out of place until it begins to gather its flock. (You know, I think that happened before for us. And, again, the world did not know quite what to do with something so out of place, something that so interrupted the way we think and the way we live.) So before we crucify any notion of beauty in the wilderness, let us stop and breathe and see it in bloom. Let us open our eyes and begin, even now while we’re wandering in the darkness, to see our resurrection (that’s right, not only THE Resurrection, but OUR resurrection) that is beginning to be. Because, SOMETIMES even the wilderness blooms.
Our God is the One who comes to us in a burning bush, in an angel’s song, in a newborn child. Our God is the One who cannot be found locked in the church, not even in the sanctuary. Our God will be where God will be with no constraints, no predictability. Our God lives where our God lives, and destruction has no power and even death cannot stop the living. Our God will be born where God will be born, but there is no place to look for the One who comes to us. When God is ready God will come even to a godforsaken place like a stable in Bethlehem. Watch…for you know not when God comes. Watch, that you might be found whenever, wherever God comes. (Ann Weems, Kneeling in Bethlehem)
FOR TODAY: Stop and look for the blooms in the wilderness. What beauty do you see?