The Ides of March

 The old saying "beware the Ides of March" is from the story of Julius Caesar. A seer had warned him that he would come to harm before the ides of March and on that very day as he walked to the theater he passed the seer and mocked him,  saying "the ides of March have come" , and the seer responded "Aye, Caesar; but not gone" and later that same day at the Theater of Pompey, Julius Caesar was assassinated. His assassination was a turning point for Rome leading to civil war and was the beginning of the change from Roman Republic to Roman Empire.  

  March signifies a turning point in our calendar of seasons, from winter to spring, typically taunting us with beautiful warm days, the budding of trees, the bursting forth of bulbs from the ground and all their promise of flowers and yet in betwixt the warmness and promise of new life come the buffeting winds of March, said to come in like a lion and to go out as a lamb. Yet often, here in New Mexico they come in as a lamb and go out as a lion. Today promises to be such a day, with winds of up to 50 mph and clouds of dust, dust that hovers over the city of Albuquerque and over the Sandia Mountains creating a dingy yellow veil that dims the view and hides the beauty.

   Sometimes turning points are heralded by loss, be it the assassination of a leader as it was with the nation of Rome, or the howling winds that signifies winter's anger at being driven back into the shadows by spring. or the times of loss, death, pain and suffering within our own lives that so often leave us stripped naked and broken crying out for a rain of grace from God.

  Sometimes they are heralded by moments of great joy, and gifts, the blessing of marriage, or the birth of a child, a new job, a new friendship, a new road to walk down and the hope of new life found in Christ, Times that leave us in awe of the beauty and wonder of life and how very precious it is.

  In both can come a rain of grace, and a turning point, the moment when you realize how small you are, how helpless and broken and powerless you are. The moment when you realize that you are not in control of anything at all.......and that moment when you realize the it is God and God alone who changes things and Him and Him alone who controls. That moment when you realize that all that is good comes from God, and that He holds in His hand all that you hold dear. And that moment when you realize that He is trustworthy, and that He loves you, and that You can rest easily in that knowledge, no matter what is happening, no matter if you are in the midst of harsh winds of sorrow and loss or basking in the sunlight of good gifts and great blessings.

  I ponder these things as  I look out this morning through my patio window and watch the big metal whirly gig turning in the light breeze, it marks the grave of the big white dog, the one who taught me so much about God and about life and about worship and hope. The one who taught me how to live in the moment and dance with joy. I miss her.

  March is an anniversary month for us, anniversaries of celebration and of remembrance. On the 6th of March we married, my love and I and this year was our 31st. And on the 12th of March our daughter in law left us, jumped straight into the arms of Jesus 3 years ago. Anniversaries of joy and of sorrow. Both were turning points.

 Marriage was one of the biggest turning points in my life apart from Christ and it stands right next to the birth of my children as a major point of change. It was change for the better, and it is where I first began to learn the art of putting others before my self. It hasn't been an easy lesson to learn and it is one I still forget from time to time.

 Mel's death was also a turning point, a time of great sorrow and loss, of guilt and regret, of helplessness and a pain so deep I felt near cut in two. From the ashes of that came the time of searching, seeking, and trying to find beauty in the everyday, beauty in the midst of sorrow. Slowly I learned how to practice gratitude, how to find something for which to be thankful each and every day, sometimes moment by moment. Sometimes it was just a flower, or the antics of a dog, or the sun rising over the mountains, and sometimes it was the bigger things like family and friends and new life found.

  Although turning points in life are scary, in Christ they can and do lead to growth. The most significant turning point that any soul can reach is that one where you see Christ for who He is and bow the knee and call Him King. For He is our Hiding Place when the hard winds of life come, when the winds buffet so very hard that you can only huddle in a heap as they strip you bare and leave you bereft, for without Him they will leave you bereft.....but in Him, in Him, you will never be stripped of hope and He will never leave you. He is a Wall that blocks the winds, and prevents the strong grit and sand from stripping you of life.

 He is; "a shelter from the storm” (Isaiah 32:2). “In the cover of your presence you hide them from the plots of men; you store them in your shelter from the strife of tongues” (Psalm 31:20).

“For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock” (Psalm 27:5).

“You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble” (Psalm 32:7).

And He says to you, “O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the crannies of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely” (Song of Songs 2:14).

  So on this Ides of March, I give thanks to the One who has preserved me through it all, and who daily renews my soul with hope for tomorrow and who showers me in His marvelous grace and who provides for me and shelters me from the harsh winds of life. In Him I need not worry about that ancient saying "beware the ides of March" for He holds me in His hand and nothing can befall me without His approval and if He approves He will see me through it and He will bring about my good and His glory in it.

   As I write these words the birds are singing in the trees, the peach tree blooms are vivid pink, the crab apple tree is blooming and the daffodil and tulips are rising from their dark graves with the promise of color and life to come. The old white dog lays in the morning rays, belly up to the sun, basking in the warmth. The little black and white dog takes a rare moment of rest and sleeps on the patio just outside my writing table. The whirly gig over the big white dog's grave turns slowly in the breeze, and for now the bells are silent, the wind mobiles stirring only slightly. Soon the hard winds will come.

 But I am content. I am in that place called Enough. Let the winds come..........He is with me.......and He is enough.