Sunday, March 18, 2007

Sin and Spring

Now there's an eye-catching title for a post.

For the first part. A quote from Brennan Manning, in his book, Ruthless Trust.

"If we say we have no sin in us, we are deceiving ourselves and refusing to admit the truth" (1 John 1:8). We live in a society that luxuriates in the therapeutic and the exculpatory, condemns judgment as authoritarian, dismisses acknowledgment of sin as an assault on self-worth, and resists discernment of spirits as the imposition of arbitrary standards. The devastating consequence of these societal shortcomings is the perennial gnostic retreat from personal responsibility.

If we avoid any confrontation with authentic guilt, we stifle personal growth. If we continue to blame others for our weaknesses and failures, we refuse accountability for the present direction of our life. Although self-pity thwarts self-acceptance, wearing the scarlet letter V (for victim) allows us to take the moral high ground.

My psychiatrist friend Bob Stewart once told me of a patient, a married woman whose seven-year affair with a married man ended abruptly when he dumped her for a younger woman. Unable to face her essential unhappiness, she had blamed her loveless marriage for her infidelity and had sought therapy and pills in order to exonerate herself from her self-inflicted suffering. Finally, severely depressed and suicidal, unresponsive to antidepressant medication, she was hospitalized.

Because this woman did not hold herself morally responsible, she disdained any sense of personal guilt. For the same reason, she turned to a psychiatrist for relief rather than to the Jesus of her childhood. In a world where the only plea is "not guilty," what possibility is there of an honest encounter with Jesus, "who died for our sins"? We can only pretend that we are sinners, and thus only pretend that we are forgiven.

To knife through our pretense, cowardice, and evasions, to see the truth about ourselves and the true state of our souls before God--this requires enormous courage and ruthless trust in the merciful love of the redeeming God. Put simply, sin must be acknowledged and confessed before there can be forgiveness and real transformation.

Before anyone says, "Yes, but..." the author is not speaking from some lofty height, handing out obscure pronouncements. Brennan Manning has some mileage on him, honestly earned.

Aside from the interesting similarities to my experience in the story above, this little discussion really grabbed my attention when I read it the first time several months ago. It's been rolling about in my head ever since. I think, in my final analysis, the thing that so holds my focus here is that I feel called by the author to examine my life rather than go around looking for someone to blame. A theme, if you will, of things for me lately. I don't know really what to do with it, but there it sits.

For the second part of the title. . . We have chicks. Ten chicks. Four yellow/ruddy "Red Sex Link", six variegated grey/black/yellow Americana/Araucanas. They're sitting under a heat lamp in a big box on the little table in the corner of the living room, guarded jealously by four "parents". The kids could barely leave them to sleep at night. The thermometer reads 87-92F, depending. The biggest uproar of the day was when the sensor fell on the floor and no one noticed that it was out of the box, but it was dropping and wow, did the kids react quickly. The only thing missing was a flashing red light and siren.

The best thing about these chicks is that they'll lay brown or blue-olive green eggs. I think a couple have no chance of laying eggs, but we have high hopes for the rest.

(Don't say it. No. Don't. I'm rolling my eyes at myself, thanks.)

I finished cutting back the roses this afternoon. I trimmed the lavendar bushes back last week, cut the mums down, wrapped up with the variegated sage and lemon balm today as well. The buddleia could use a good cutting back, but it's filling in its leaves, so I'll catch it next time around. The daylilies are poking up arcs of greens, the primroses gave up pushing shyly out and just shot forth, all purple and pink. The miniature daffy-down-dillies are sitting up, waving and bowing in the breeze. It looks like, minus the "help" of the now moved neighbor kid, the Siberian iris will be showy this year. All sorts of bulb greens are lurching forth in fits and starts. The forsythia is wild--having rooted some of it's branches out as new shrubs. The forget-me-not crop will be thoroughly fluffy--the buds are dense, plus they seeded like mad last year. The columbines have gone from tight, deep mauve dew-bearing cups to leggy, silvery green foliage making clear the way for the pink flowers to follow. The clematis vines are sending out clusters of leaf buds to cover their copper trellises, and the climbing rose is taking it's task quite seriously via new arms and legs all over the arch atop the garden seat.

We rounded up more of the storm dropped branches today. It's strange to see how many piles of big fir boughs, twigs and needles were flung down in the violent winds of late last fall. We keep raking and there continues to be more. We haven't seen the lawn-mowing bunnies in a long while. We're hoping there's not some lurking predator, especially since we'd like to let the chickens run a bit when they're bigger. We're counting on them for some pest control, once we get the garden in.

The weather is so springy. The plants so obedient. The chicks so peep-y and poopy and cute. The children are so antsy about the chicks. It's Easter time soon. It's good to be here.


1 comment:

~ V ~ said...

Ahhh...isn't spring grand? And those chicks...just so...CUTE! It's a good thing, too. If they tried to sell full-grown, vicious, nose-pecking roosters, I doubt there would be many takers.

Congrats on the new additions. Someday when you're trying to figure out WHY you got those creatures and you're lamenting WHY didn't anybody warn you, just remember: it wouldn't have made any difference, because right now they are just too cute! (Talking about the baby chicks, of course!)