I finished Irina's amazing book, Grey is the Color of Hope, just before today…the boys are visiting Grandma and Grandpa today…and have a few more comments to share. I am, however, unwilling to share too much. It is important to read the book and experience it for yourselves.
And I can see that this will be a book to be added to the few that I read again and again, every few years. I have decided that this is a book for my eldest son to read. Irina’s horrific story is told gently enough not to be too overwhelming to my soon-to-be-teenager. And we have been struggling somewhat with the concept of need versus want…as well as the importance of the three brothers sticking together and loving one another.
What I find most striking about the “subversives” in Irina’s Small Zone is that as they engage in their hunger and work strikes, they do not judge those who do not participate, nor do they do physical damage to other people or their property. Their own bodies and possessions bear the brunt of the weight of their convictions—willing to suffer as doves and serpents. Harmless as doves, yes, but clearly as clever as serpents. “Heaping burning coals on their heads,” indeed!
If the Purple Martyrdom is the embracing of any and all weakness in order to be able to experience God's strength, then the willingness to view "annoyances" through different lenses presents a number of challenges to daily life.
Here’s an example of one of our more mundane issues that slapped me right in the face.
Yes, dandelions—those scourges of our well-manicured lawns. But also that most favorite bouquet from child to mother. And the source of so much running and blowing and squealing with delight as the tiny seed parachutes catch the wind and go on their way…mostly into the pristine yard of the neighbor….
The women in the Small Zone, as I mentioned previously, were not allowed a vegetable garden. They were also not allowed medicine. But as they quietly cultivated a variety of flowers, with illegal vegetables and herbs and other sources of nutrition hidden amongst them, they awoke one day to witness the arrival of a miracle—dandelions!
One of the older women had long taken to “…studying every blade and leaf growing in our small patch of earth, just in case it had any medicinal properties.” Considering the lowly dandelion, she “…had long known that there is hardly a more useful plant on earth.” This resourceful woman used every part of those “weeds” to enrich their lives, saying: “These plants are our lifeline.” (All references found on p. 262.)
...so many times tears of shame have welled up in my eyes as I pondered their perspective in the midst of their pain...God have mercy on me.
What potentially precious, even life-saving, “dandelions” are you whining about, digging up, or poisoning in your yard? Lord, give us eyes to see your provision of grace, whatever our circumstances.
I’m still processing this…and thinking, especially, of Romans 8:28: "We know that God makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are chosen to be a part of His plan."