Today we have one of Isaiah’s more familiar, even famous, visions. It is his powerful vision of “the day of the Lord,” describing what has come to be known as The Peaceable Kingdom. (IS 11:1-10) There are so many vivid images, some that we see on Christmas cards, some we recognize from observation of the world around us.
I believe I have spoken here of the hibiscus bush (tree?) that was moved in our yard a couple of years ago. It seemed very clear that it did not survive the transition. The surge of hope that ran through me on the day I discovered not only leaves on one of the branches but also buds seemed excessive but for me it was a clear sign that life is in some ways an inside job and occasionally we have to trust what we cannot see.
Waiting for peace in our country and world seems as futile and far away right now as the possibility of cows and bears being neighbors or babies playing by a cobra’s den. It’s clear that while waiting (patience) is important, there is more to be expected of us. How peaceable is my approach to others? Do I jump to judgment in whatever I read? Are rumors ever my “stock in trade” or do I know how to be in silence – to dwell occasionally with oppositional thought until the walls in my mind or at least in my heart are dissolved like smoke? Do I ever connect myself energetically with people in other countries around the world where people seem so strange to me? What power does the word “enemy” have in my life?
Today I look out at the tallest of trees across the yard. She stands stripped of all her fair-weather clothing and each branch – even to the tiniest of shoots – is exposed. In the “dead of winter” I know that life remains in that tree, that she is shoring up her strength to be ready for the spring when she will bloom again. Where is my willingness to be like that tree today, able to stand strong, stripped perhaps of easy answers and solutions but willing to offer my strength of honest purpose, my prayer and presence to move my world just a step closer to the realization of Isaiah’s dream?