I’ve been walking (rather than driving) to the mailbox a lot lately. That means nothing to all you city folk who have a mailbox outside your front door. But for me, I have to walk down the lane a little. And it’s late summer, so as I walk I get to be reminded of how beautiful the world is.
I’ve also been reading Isaiah. Now I’ll tell you, honestly, that the whole bible thing aside, Isaiah was a book I was ready to chuck at chapter 32. It is the whiniest, most violent and depressing book ever written.
I was thinking, “Geesh, Why bother? Age after age, the same old failure and destruction. And this book was considered the ‘fifth gospel?’ There isn’t any good news anywhere!” I was so depressed that I got to the point where I’m thinking, “Why do I even bother to get up in the morning??” I actually (not kidding) got up from my reading chair and went to bed.
[Note to Isaiah: What the heck?!? Can you get me depressed enough, already?]
The mail doesn’t come until 3pm, so after my nap, off I went down the lane with my little metal key. It made me feel better, taking that walk and getting to see the ripening summer, and creation all around me. (I think all the apples on our apple trees ripened overnight.)
I went back in the house for a paper bag and picked all the apples I could reach. All the low hanging fruit.
But, you know, I just couldn’t shake that feeling of gloom. It colored my world.
Like, why is it that the most beautiful apples grace the top of the tree where I can’t reach?
And another thing: We only got one pear this year. Just one, and it was lumpy. Last year there were so many pears that the tree branches hung down to the ground. But this year a late spring storm hit just as the blossomed opened. What a mess. A snowstorm of pear petals.
Though, you know, I’m not telling the pear story right. I need a dose of Isaiah to really perk up my perspective. Yeah, I need a story to extinguish every shred of hope, humor, or joy with doom and gloom and predictions of slashing vengeance. Something like, “and then the heavens opened up and the Lord sent burning blades of ice and fire-wind, shredding the pear tree, dooming it forever because it sucked, slicing its barren womb, and its bāal-worshiping, mincing warriors into a pulpy mess of flesh for the dogs to snack on like crazy. Curse the vine! Curse those pear trees, for a thousand generations!!”
Yeah. That sounds almost hopeless enough. Isaiah will also, no doubt, be happy to know that the berries I picked all got mouldy.
I can tell you, it was all quite enough of Isaiah for me.
But today, there I was, glutton for punishment. (What I really want to read is Jeremiah, don’t you know. But I make rules for myself, and the rule in this particular case is I have to finish Isaiah first.)
And so I read the second half of Isaiah. And wow! Talk about a different kind of day! Isaiah 2 is lovely. Now, there is the fifth gospel. What a beautiful book and what redeeming sentiment.
I was thinking, geesh! Throw the first part of that book away!
I went to get the mail today in a whole different kind of mood. There wasn’t just out-of-reach apples and one lonely, misshapen and accursed pear in my yard. Instead, it was a cornucopia-ed display of late summer. And you know, it was all so beautiful out there I took pictures.
Our amazing and grand Walnut tree with neighbor’s beagle underneath.
Homesteaders planted that tree, like, 100 years ago, and it’s magnificent. This time of year it drops its green-rind fruit onto the grass and some creature gathers them up and eats them.
And the plums are ripening across the lane.
And what about those pesky-delicious blackberries that stretch their spiky canes anywhere they can get away with? They were perfect, yummy and fresh. They even came free with organic spiders.
Against the backdrop of the pines, the berries looked like Christmas come early.
And you know I was thinking, only in the Pacific Northwest would a plant as beautiful as this one be considered a weed.
Only here would daisies grow wild and wise and watchful in the driveway.
Yeah. I love it here.
And that got me thinking some more. About Isaiah and that low hanging fruit. That in a lot of ways, the deep depressing depths of that downer prophet kind of worked. I mean, sometimes, it really can seem like God looks away, like everything is such a struggle and so screwed up. Right? Some days you wonder, why the heck did I even get up this morning? Why do I even bother?
And the opportunity on those days is pass through it to the second half. For in the second part of the book we learn that no matter what darkness may come, God hates injustice. God loves peace. And God is with us.
Unlike me, God can reach more than just the low-hanging fruit. God can reach to the treetops.
… I have redeemed you. Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it; shout, O depths of the earth; break forth into singing, O mountains, O forest, and every tree in it.