The Blessing of Disturbed Souls

I watched the plow cut through the pasture from my treadmill (squirrel cage?) at The Canyons Athletic Club. For the first time in years, its soil was disturbed, separated, opened to new seeds and a new crop. That field has been planted to oats every spring since, baled three times each summer, and often sports a large herd of deer. It’s a source of profit for its owners (I hope!), beauty and peace to us observers.
The prophet Joel’s words on Ash Wednesday speak to the disturbing, the opening of our souls. He lives and writes in a time of famine and war, drought and devouring locust, frightening hunger and need. Joel names no specific sin. They were simply dark days for his people. Yet into the darkness God calls with words paraphrased in our liturgy: “Rend your hearts and not your clothing…Return to God with all your heart, the source of grace and mercy. Come seek the tender faithfulness of God” (Joel 2:12-13, Lent Gospel Acclamation, Now the Feast and Celebration).
“Rend your hearts and not your clothing.” In dark times, says God, open your hearts. Don’t rip your clothes. Transitions—moving, aging, kids’ growth, job changes—are hard for me and many. I do whine and moan in public (ripping my clothes doesn’t impress). I’m tempted to clench my heart, and hold on to the past. But the machinery of change moves on and works up my soul. As we allow, God opens our hearts—my heart—to something new.
Anita came into my office today grinning. She says she’s not good at moving either, but Anita was loud and clear: “Change is good for all of us!” My smile lifted and my heart opened. Hope grew like a green blade rising.
What disturbs you? Is anything loosening your soul, opening you to new possibilities? Dare you hope that God might use even a terrible situation to help you, grow you, use you? What seeds is God slipping into the soil of your life?
We pray: Strong and tender God, Master Gardener of our souls, we are often disturbed. Let disturbance not clench our hearts, but open them. Open our minds to the seed of your Word. Let your Spirit’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22) rise in our souls. Amen. Pastor Brenda