In oversize puddles and wetlands, my sister and I stalked amphibians to see if we could spot with our own eyes what was chirping the oversize chorus. Nope. Each time we got close to water’s edge, one frog stopped singing and another started just a few feet further away, playing hide and seek with us while singing an impressive chorus. We imagined their creature-from-the-black-lagoon plotting, “I think I can take the shorty, but the ginger target looks tastier.” Wonder and giggles make good stress relievers.
Don’t we all need a place to go, to run or walk out our thoughts in our mixed-up, “manic Monday” world? To pace out our problems on our worst days, “Yeah, it’s finally Friday, but–dang it–I didn’t solve that yet. And I didn’t even come close to meeting my goals for the week.” Stress, stress, stress might tempt us to spend even more time at our computers. Nope. Add arrows to your Bullet Journal to move the task to next week. Not all change depends on you or your own efforts. Head outside!
“Don’t believe things can change? Just look at Palm Sunday — to Good Friday — to Resurrection Sunday. Always believe, always keep hoping — things can change.”
When I’m frustrated, I walk the 3 1/2-mile Deer Grove East prairie path, several times a week. Sometimes with my brother and his bite-sized dog Samson. Always windy, rarely crowded, a great place to watch clouds and view the whole horizon. (Translation: no hills … or any feature, really … to distract from the sky and my steps.)
It seems I walk much faster on a warm March day (inspired by the name of the month?), but it’s in contrast with whistling headwinds that slow me down in blustery February.
Friday I walked with my sister Tami. We hashed over our family’s issues along the way, and lost–and found–her glove, but no solutions. And we stalked frogs as tiny as a fingertip. Visiting from Minnesota, she kept commenting on the uninterrupted green-grass vista and buds on the trees. Not spring in Minnesota yet.
Walking on a Friday brings me hope even when there’s no real reason. Nothing’s actually gotten better … yet. But I stop my striving and put the week to rest. I walk my way into weekend mode. I look forward to Sunday.
Monday I walked again, alone this time, hurrying to complete my lap before a hailstorm rolled in. Almost back to the car, I nearly missed it — and it changed everything. How? “Pop,”a tree burst into full white bloom. Spring hope, there before me.
In the midst of the still winter-bare woods, a tree dressed fully in spring splendor. Over the weekend, life found a way. While I was resting, watching movies, cheering at 12 PHS volleyball games, talking with two friends in marriage crunches. While I was worshiping and waving palm branches at church, God was re-creating his world. And hopefully, recreating me.
That Friday my sister and I talked through my ministry “do-over” options, brainstorming a possible shift from the church world back into non-profit leadership. My dining table was piled with 50+index cards listing my transferable skills in sharpie-blue. It’s uplifting as spring to have a sister you trust and who loves you look at your bold bucket of skills and say, “Yes! You’d be great at this !”
Even without my sister to cheer me on, Monday felt better, with Sunday’s lingering hope. Monday brought morning sun and lemon daffodils popping open in the backyard, but quickly turned to holy hailstones crashing down from the heavens. During the storm, I boldly sent out my revamped, skill-focused resumes. Talked with a potential church employer about a fresh ministry area. Wrote a new article assigned to me by a magazine editor. Sunday hope carried over into my manic Monday.
I finally googled those crazy, chirping amphibians my sister and I had chased. “Chorus frogs”, they are called: locally, Western chorus frogs, and where I used to live, Northeast spring peepers.
The amazing thing I learned is these tiny hoppers can survive being frozen alive. These daring frogs come out of hibernation early, and when the temperature drops again, no problem. When the first ice crystals form, their livers quickly rush sugary anti-freeze throughout their bodies to protect their organs.
This frog can survive frozen up to a week . The frog enters a state of suspended animation. Its breathing, blood flow and heartbeat shut down, and its limbs become frozen stiff. The water under its skin freezes, and the contents of its stomach become a solid ball of ice. More than half of the water in its body turns to ice. Yet it can survive in this frozen state for days, and when the temperature goes back up, the frog thaws and eventually goes back to hopping around.–Aatish Bhatia
That’s how a chorus frog gets its jump on singing and mating before its predators show up for a spring frog-leg feast. Amazing how in just one week of yoyo-ing winter/spring weather, these critters hopped from frozen to fervent. That’s Sunday hope on a Friday. Spring embodies God’s re-creating plan in a thousand ways. Frogs literally unfreeze to sing God’s praises. Trees burst back into life when we aren’t looking for it. Cracks break through tricky, relational walls. Hope appears where we haven’t spotted it before.
God wants to recreate us in his image, to make us more like his Son, more of whom we are meant to be. On Friday, we don’t see it. Don’t see progress. Don’t see hope. Don’t want to sing. We feel frozen. No spring in sight.
It all looks impossible on Friday, doesn’t it? With the chanting crowds, the darkened sky, and and Jesus’ being nailed to a cross?
It looks impossibly bad, yet we call it “good,” for God’s actions that Friday change everything. God means us to live in close relationship with Jesus and with others. Forgiven and forgiving. Redeemed and freed from “the sin that so easily entangles.” Jesus’ Friday death on that cross and his Sunday resurrection change everything. Jesus saves us. Unfreezes us. Brings hope and Spring to our wintery souls.
Turns out that none of what we need most depends on us, on any day of the week. It all depends on Jesus, on a cross, on an empty tomb. That’s Sunday hope on a Friday.
Thanks for inspiration to Jon Acuff’s helpfully entertaining book Do-Over.
Aatish Bhatia, “What’s making this strange chirping noise?” https://www.wired.com/2014/04/spring-peeper/ (accessed 4/11/17).
Ann Voskamp, “When you’re kinda struggling through holy week–and don’t feel holy at all” http://archive.mlgn2ca.com/u=fb5ead1fd337d4ac2581b075b6244ad1&id=360d7273&e=1d0e0720 (accessed 4/11/17).