BY REV. ANN MANN
When seasons change, we have a choice. We can mourn what we have lost. Or we can celebrate what we have gained. My prayer is that I would live in a state of rejoicing. But the truth is, since the loss of my husband I go from mourning to joy, and back again.
My neighbor’s peonies are blooming. It is such a blessing to live next door to a master gardener. The best I can do is buy potted plants, and I do. Last fall, with the help of a friend, I bought and planted some hydrangea bushes and some lantana. The lantana appears not to have survived. Like all we have lost in this life, I mourn their passing.
But there is also cause to celebrate. The hydrangeas are budding and blooming. That could be because I covered them when we had freeze warnings. Fertilizer was applied to their tender roots. During stretches of weather without rain, I watered them. And now I see the fruit of that labor. Gardening is hard work, but the results are so beautiful.
It is like caring for my cat Tiger. If you did not know, I am a little bit cat crazy. It began with my cat Zorro, but that is a story for another day. Tiger showed up as my cat Zorro was nearing the end of his days. Tiger was a great comfort to me in that season of loss. Caring for her can involve hard work (think litter box and nail trims), but the hard work is worth it.
Tiger made the move with Kim and me from Monroe to Barnesville. She was always eager to cuddle with us on the couch after a long day of unpacking. There is nothing more calming than hearing a purring cat. Research actually bears me out on this point.
The sound of a purring cat can lower stress, lower blood pressure, and promote healing. Petting my precious Tiger is helping heal my broken heart. Nothing can replace the loss of my husband. But hearing Tiger purr helps ease the loss in this season of change.
Sweet Tiger and the beautiful flowers of spring are a reminder of the joy of living. My sweet children and precious grandchild are more reminders. The church I am privileged to serve, and the people of this community are sources of joy and inspiration. In a season of loss, we need to remember all we have to live for.
My goal is not only to live, but to live with joy. Of great inspiration is a passage I read in a recent devotional from Philippians 4:4-9. I encourage you to read it, to meditate on it, and to pray over it. It contains several phrases that lift me up when I am down.
Rejoice in the Lord, always. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything. With thanksgiving present your requests to God. The peace of God will guard your heart and mind. Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable; think about these things. Put what we have learned into practice.
This passage of scripture closes with a promise that when we live with these promises written on our hearts, “The God of peace will be with you.” May God’s peace reign in our hearts when seasons change, and always.
Ann Mann is an Emmy Award winning journalist, now serving as pastor to Barnesville First United Methodist Church. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.