I grew up with a Bible-quoting mother. Much of the wisdom and framework for our lives was constructed out of the handy verses that supported her principles on the spot. So much of the Scripture that I know, both Hebrew and Christian, was learned by hearing it–in the King James version, the 400th anniversary of which is being celebrated this year. Even though I use other versions for study and teaching, many of the phrases from the KJV that were repeated often in my childhood and are still etched in my default memory use that old, poetic, sometimes sonorous, poetic language.
I was reminded in these weeks following Pentecost of a phrase that I remembered from Joel 2:25: “I will green the years that the locust has eaten.” How shocking it was to me that the wording I had remembered was faulty; the word is restore, not green! The term “greening” is a fairly recent addition to American English in 1970 by Charles Reich as he called the planet to be more conscious of the environment and the way we use the natural resources have been given, but it does include restoration, recycling and re-imagining a world that is sustainable in what it uses and produces. I had unconsciously mixed up one word for the other. It is the hope of restoration, of redeeming, of healing the wounds of former years that draws me. Summer-time, ordinary time, ecclesiastical green time seems like a season to notice where greening, restoration, has taken place in my own life and in the world around me.
When I water my garden, I am reminded graphically of the damage that insects (although mine are not locusts) can do; Joel says, the hopper, the destroyer and the cutter. I can look back and remember moments, time, years that felt swarmed, cut and destroyed: holes in the leaves, brown on the blooms, splits in the stems of my relationships, ministry and perspectives. However, when I reflect contemplatively, I can remember how so many of those losses have been redeemed: by coming to the end of heavy sorrow; by falling into experiences I never could have imagined; by connecting with people who had open-hearted and inclusive lives that led me into worlds of which I knew nothing. Joel tells us that the response to that awareness is being satisfied and praising to the God, who has dealt wondrously with you.
So as I go about my summer tasks of greening-my yard, my house, my spirit-and restoring what is broken and tattered, my cadence is praise. After a morning at the beach, where I watched the June gloom over ocean and sky be transformed into the wild blue yonder by the sun breaking through the fog, I recalled another of my mother’s favorites, this time from Malachai 4:2: “…for you who revere my name the Sun of righteousness will rise with healing is his wings.”
Praise to You , O Sun, who can drive the gloom away. Praise to you, Healing Spirit, who knits is back together in Your image. Praise to You, Risen Christ, who takes us up, even when mother, father, friend and neighbor forsake us. Praise to you, Dancing Trinity, who continues to green our hearts, restore our loves, energizes our work to heal the fabric of the broken world!