A tender space lies after the new. A gap between delight and complacency, of courage and disappointment. A place ripe for tending. For hope.
Being new can be exhilarating. The group welcomes you in, eager to know you. They include and invite you. The new marriage is thrilling, joyful, as you dream of all the tomorrows to come, wrapped in love’s security. The new baby steals your breath with every sweet sigh and yawn, her tiny life a precious gift.
But after the new is where we grow. When our popularity wanes, the marriage sours, the bad news arrives or the sweet baby grows up and storms away, we have a choice. We can turn away from the light. Stop soaking up the living water.
Or, we can grow roots. Stabilize. Find strength from the lack; determine to gift seeds into the world. Bloom under the tender eye of heaven.
Jesus would grow up like a tender shoot, Isaiah prophesied. And then be despised. Rejected.
Will we sink faithful roots deeper into the hard ground? Trust the waiting ways of harvest?
A bitter root, it says in Hebrews, springs up and causes trouble, eating away our softness, poisoning our words and perceptions. But the seed rooted in the good soil of faith reaches up to the sun, determined to produce something worthy of its light.
After the new is where we meet ourselves; build homes in the wilderness. Where we draw deeply from the wells of gratitude for what is, rather than what is not. Where we pluck the ripened berries of joy, their juice dripping down our chin, down into the good soil, while we rejoice in the sweetness of a hard-won harvest.