By Jerusalem Greer
St. Peter’s Episcopal, Minister Children, Youth and Families
First, read Psalms 80:14-19
You prepared the good earth,
you planted her roots deep; (The Message)
Keep watch over this vine, and nourish it. (The Voice)
These are some of the words that we read in Psalm 80:14-19. Preparation, rootedness, watching, nourishment … These are all part of what it takes to grow a living thing, what it takes to revive one half-gone.
I am not known for my green thumb. I have killed, and failed to revive, many a houseplant. And I know exactly where my fault lines are drawn. They are in the areas of nourishment and watching. I am not good at noticing when my sage plant or my fern is parched and dry. All too often a succulent withers right inside my window ledge.
But I am good with animals and I have been known, on a few occasions, to bring a family pet back from the brink of the unthinkable a time or two.
Years ago our family had a hedgehog named Potter Mittens. Potter was a rescue hedgehog and he was blind in one eye due to some abuse he had suffered in his former habitat.
Understandably, Potter was rather shy, and one might even say he was prickly (and not just on the outside.) Try as we might, Potter never completely warmed to being held or played with regularly, so we mostly left him alone to play on his hamster wheel and burrow in the towels and cardboard that we gave him.
One cold spring however, I noticed that Potter was not coming out of his DIY den often. His food and water were barely being touched. I also noticed that the area in which his aquarium had been moved to was darker and colder than I had realized. Soon it became obvious that Potter, following some very latent instinctual tendencies, was trying to hibernate.
Now, hibernation is not safe for domesticated animals because they have not stored the proper sort or amount of nutrients as an animal in the wild would. Once I realized what was happening, I knew we would have to act fast in order to bring Potter back to a safe body temperature.
I quickly gathered him up in a bath towel, took him outside and sat in direct sunlight with him, turning his face towards the warmth. I held him (still wrapped in the towel,) as close to my chest as I could… wrapping his little cocoon with my arms, willing my body to transfer warmth to his. I think I may have even swayed a bit, and sang a bit, rocking him back to the life the way I had once rocked my babies to sleep.
After an hour or so, Potter began to stir, and soon he poked his little nose out of the towel cocoon, sniffing the fresh air around him. Once I was confident he was on the mend I let him down to run around the fresh grass and dirt, and the boys turned over several large garden rocks so that he could dig in the rich, nutrient filled soil.
Our little friend had been revived!
Back inside we made sure that Potter’s home was better prepared for the cold weather, we heated his habitat properly, and we kept watch on him through the remainder of those cold months, making sure he had all he needed to thrive.
Occasionally revival comes like a mighty wind, blowing us over and filling us up. But more often the process of being revived is accomplished through our most basic needs -- warmth, shelter, nourishment, tenderness, and love. These are the things that God offers us time and time again, and these are the things we have to offer each other, if only we will take the time to notice the need -- both our own, and our neighbors.
Prayer: Dear God, please help us find the places where we need your revival. Come to us, wrap us up in the blanket of your love, and let your light warm our hearts again. Amen.
1.) What are some areas in your life that have gone cold and need to be revived? (Ideas: Prayer life, feeling joy, giving generously, being kind, friendships…)
2.) What are the signs that those places in your heart are starting to hibernate like Potter was trying to do? (Ideas: Shorter temper, feeling selfish, lack of forgiveness, being too busy…)
3.) What sorts of preparation do you need to do to nurture these areas better? (Ideas: Join a prayer group, host a “free” garage sale, practice Sabbath…)
4.) Is there someone you know that needs some reviving? How can you bring them warmth, love, tenderness, or shelter?