“You know what, go take ten minutes to think about what you wanna write,” my professor said. We’d been sitting there for only a handful of seconds, trying to remember an inanimate object that meant a lot to us when we were kids and then write a letter to it. He’d finally broken the silence.
“Go outside, walk around a bit, and come back up in ten minutes, and be thinking about this.” He dropped his pen on his binder and the four of us got up and left the classroom. We descended the stairs or took the elevator, splitting up and making our way down four fights of stairs in the Main Building, before we reached the fresh air that waited outside.
Out there I walked towards the sculpture garden, hands on my hips, squinting into the sun, thinking. The autumn air smelled like football season, like memories of raking leaves, baking pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, eating homemade chili and drinking Styrofoam cups of hot chocolate between gloved hands, cheering while leaning against the fence lining the field, while sitting on the cold metal bleachers, while working the concession stands.
I was looking for the inanimate object that meant the most to me when I was little, but that search was crowded by a million other things.
I was homesick, and I felt most needed at home, and yet I was here, in the City, writing.
I looked up and was startled to see several pink rose bushes in full bloom. I looked around me and realized I was surrounded by rose bushes. I had forgotten that Pratt even had a rose garden.
The moment I saw one big pink rose, about the size of a softball, I just lost my control over my own emotions, and let the homesickness come out. Oh, how I wanted to be home. There is hurt and distress there, and while I know I can’t do much of anything to fix it all, being there has always seemed to help, even me.
Last and the beginning of this week has been a battle with bitterness, with old hurts and pains that the enemy has brought up to use against me…and I’m just really struggling. I come to God to talk to Him, and there’s an underlying line of bitterness that I can’t seem to shake, and I don’t know how to give it over to Him.
With that, though I very much desired to stay in the rose garden and think some more, to walk with God and let Him mull over my thoughts with me and show me what to do and put my heart back together, I left to go back to class. And I wrote about a garden.
Earlier that morning, as I had walked to the post office, I let myself stare up at the white stone apartment buildings, say good morning to the people out walking their dogs and running and doing their grocery shopping. My heart was heavy, and I was grieving loudly inside. And yet I could hope. I could hope in a God who’s already won, whose will cannot be thwarted, who protects His girls and defends and builds up His men. And I remembered that I am safe. I prayed to Him about Jake, about my parents, about my siblings, about school, and I thought, and thought, and thought.
In the book of Zechariah, when God is coming to rescue His people, He says to them:
“Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double. For I have bent Judah as my bow; I have made Ephraim its arrow. I will stir up your sons, O Zion, against your sons, O Greece, and wield you like a warrior’s sword.” (9:12-13)
When I first read this, looking at “prisoners of hope,” I thought that it was saying that they were being held captive by their hope, that they couldn’t get away from it, that they couldn’t help but hope. When I asked Taylor what she thought, without context, she thought it was more that people were enslaved by putting their hope in things other than God. But then, when I talked to Jacob about it, he suggested that it was actually just actual prisoners, people in prison, and God was calling on their hope, rallying them to hope in Him and return to Him, because He’s coming to restore them. With the context, this made the most sense.
And I’ve been set free…I’m not a prisoner of anything…so how much more hope can I, should I have?
Habakkuk: O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?..Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.
The Lord: Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told…
Habakkuk: You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?…I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.
The Lord: Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.
Habakkuk: I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me. Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us. Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places…
(Habakkuk 1:2,4-5, 13, 2:1-3, 3:16-19)