We know what power looks like and feels like. We know what a lack of power feels like and looks like. We know what power used inappropriately looks like. We have felt people misuse their power over us. Forms of abuse towards women and children are inappropriate uses of power. Racism, classism, sexism are essentially misuses of power. One person or whole groups of people using their strength over others with nuclear weapons, violence, intimidation, belittling speech-- all misuses of power. Imbalances of power lead to wars between nations, peoples, religions. We know when power is wielded with appropriate strength and when it is not. Each of us has personal power. We must use our own power wisely.
We can see power. Feel it. The power of God's creative hand shone fully in our bathroom window in the wee small hours on the morning of February 27th. February's full moon is aptly dubbed the "Snow Moon" in the Farmer's Almanac, because February is the snowiest month in the Northern Hemisphere. There are at least two Cherokee names for the February full moon: "Month of the Bony Moon" and "Hungry Moon." Food is hard to come by this winter month. There is both an abundance of snow and a scarcity of food during February. The relentless, steady power of the cycle of God's seasons is no match for the powerless fits and starts of humanity.
There are times when we can exert our power over natural resources through the wizardry of technology as simple as a wooden water wheel over a river and as complicated as wind turbines in Texas, interestingly enough, the state with the most wind capacity as of 2019. There are times when we find ourselves helpless against the wiles of nature. The recent snow storm in Texas (of all places!), the subsequent failure of the power grid (despite the wind power) bears witness to the power of the natural world over human power. Icicles hung from ceiling fans...YIKES! Our neighborhood was out of power for a few days. These power poles once resourced our street. Broken in two like toothpicks, tumbled by the weight of large trees heavy with ice. On morning walks, Nico somehow finds these especially enticing for a sniff. Maybe he can sense power, too.
It's one thing to exert power forcefully, quite another to refuse to exert power, to hold back power. In martial arts, it is the restraint of power that is often more powerful than the overt use of power. It actually takes more strength to refuse to use power than to use it. The fruit of the Spirit of self-control comes into play here. Holding back power to command, crush, control, crave is actually a spiritual discipline. When we exert our power appropriately, "we find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our own way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely." (Galatians 5:22-26, The Message)
There is the slow power of water one drip at a time, that wears away a stone. This is how my prayers feel. This is how it feels to move through pandemic Blursdays. There is the slow power of a jonquil or daffodil bulb bursting one millimeter at a time toward surprising welcome bloom. This is how I hope morning walks will whittle my waist. Anthony Trollope, an English novelist and civil servant in the mid-1800's said that "A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labors of a spasmodic Hercules." In other words, daily practice, daily completion of small tasks, over time are actually more powerful than Captain America, Iron Man and the Hulk combined!
Each day the sun is rising a minute earlier, each evening the sun is setting a minute later. Each minute changes Winter into Spring. "Lent" takes its root meaning from the word "lengthen." When the days get longer, we have longer to pray, plant, walk, wonder at God's work through Jesus, which is an amazing testament to God's restraint of power. God's slow, suffering power is clear on the cross, through Jesus. "For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God...Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength." (1 Corinthians 1 selected verses, NRSV)
God's restrained use of power actually gives Jesus the power to save us and set us free.
Grace and Peace,