Like Spring [Poem by Mom]

Georgia vines cover our backyard like love covers a multitude of sins. At least that is the natural order of things—with the vines, as well as with true love.

We are slowly learning about southern biology. My wife’s daily devotional times are suffering thanks to the babbling birds boldly blaring their boom boxes behind our brick abode. I’m noticing—I think, I hope—that Georgia grass grows just a bit more gradually than Iowa varieties.

I might be wrong. Either way, I know that my love should look more like Iowa grass and Georgia vines, and that forgiveness should grow more quickly in wounds of my heart.

Mom talks about these things in the poem she shares this month. If you are struggling to forgive, or surprised by your own capacity to hate, then may her words give you fresh courage.

Mom’s poem is old—first written when I was only eight. (I recall the geological events she describes from the time, but was blissfully unaware as a boy of the concurrent ecclesiological disruptions motivating her poem.) Mom has written a new introduction to her old poem. But first, here is the poem. Enjoy!


Photo Credit: Dainis Matisons via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Dainis Matisons via Compfight cc

LIKE SPRING

How persistent Spring is,
Untiring in her zeal
To carpet all that’s barren,
To beautify and heal.

Even into gashes
That man has blasted out,
Peninsulas are greening
And tiny islands sprout.

How forgiving Spring is
Of winter’s wasting shocks;
Ferns trail her every footstep
And moss adorns the rocks.

Oh, if man would mellow,
Forgive as joyously,
And seek to heal old wound scars
As conscientiously.

—Elaine Gingrich, January 1982/1985. Published in Ontario Informer, 1985.


Ken and I have been marking Bible courses for prison inmates for over twenty years. The very first lesson in the first Gospel Echoes Team course asks the student to name the most forgiving person that he knows other than God. Another question I marked last night: “What have you observed in Jesus’ relationships that could help you get along better with others?” The inmate responded with “Forgiveness is key.”

Forgiveness! This theme appears again and again in the inmates’ responses and comments and prayer requests. “Pray that my family, my wife, my children will forgive me.” “ Pray that I can forgive myself.” “I am finding it easier to forgive those who have hurt me.” “Studying these courses is helping me to forgive others.”

One student had wanted his life to end but reading the Bible showed him that he could turn his life around. He asked forgiveness of God and his loved ones and was finally able to forgive his girlfriend who left him while he was in jail. Forgiveness is transformative.

We all know forgiveness is not essential only for prison inmates. The scars that I write about in this poem have nothing to do with crime or incarceration. Sadly many Christians live imprisoned far too long in the grips of unforgiveness and bitterness. No wonder the epistles command us over and over to be tenderhearted, to forgive as Christ forgave us, and to return good for evil.

“Like Spring” was written after a discouraging season in church life. Differing opinions on church affiliation had caused our beloved pastor to move on. A few members moved away. Ken wondered why he was building our new home. The images for the poem grew out of the road construction occurring that summer past our property. The cottage trail winding between the northern lakes was redirected, blasted through the rocky hill between our circle drive. Several times rock-drilling and blasting sent us out of our trailer home to safety, and the dust and rumble of huge dump trucks and power shovels entertained my three young sons who had a front rock seat to all the action.

It was the next spring, as I walked and prayed, that I was amazed to see how soon the barren disturbed patches of earth and crevices in the rocks were again sprouting with new growth and green beauty. But then, of course, Christ is the giver of life, of new life, in nature and in human hearts. And God is love and has called us to love and forgive as He does, to join Him in the ministry of reconciliation. I think of a simple poem I wrote in my teens: “Hating Those Who Hate.”

HATING THOSE WHO HATE

The times when I most see the need
To love mankind,
I feel like driving this great truth
Into man’s mind.

The passion of this growing lack
Of love grips me.
I see it is our foremost great
Necessity.

And yet the times my being throbs
With pain at hate
Is when my heart most tends to hate
Those men who hate.

You cannot hope to help someone
You do not love—
The only answer to this need
Comes from above.

Yes, God’s way and nature’s way is better.

—Elaine Gingrich, May 26, 2016


For the rest of the poems in this monthly series, see here.

And if you enjoyed this poem, leave a comment here for Mom, or send her an email at MomsEmailAddressImage.php.  Thanks!


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3 thoughts on “Like Spring [Poem by Mom]”

  1. Hello Ken and Elaine:
    My name is Delmer B. Martin (Elmira Ontario Canada) I have been messaging Dwight back and forth on congregational and church ordinance issues and have appreciated that he has concerned heart for the issues. I grew up in the old order Mennonite group in Waterloo County Ontario. Ironically my mom passed away in November 2009 from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Most all of my moms side of the family have died from cancer and some were quite young. My dear father has also passed away (Christmas eve 2002) Now with regards to my mom and her non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, she had no other health issues till she had her spline removed in c2005 and by 2006 she began feeling ill and she was subsequently diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. My dear mother went for all sorts of advice and she decided that she wanted no treatment whatsoever. I wanted mom to get treatment and fight the disease but it was moms call and she had her mind made up . One of the reasons for her decision was that the cancer was mainly in her stomach (grapefruit size) but it was also in her lymph nodes in her groin and in her neck and the other reason, even though she did not admit it, was that her and my dear father had an almost perfect Christian marriage and well Dad had passed away in 2002 after slowly succumbing to Parkinsons disease. Mom became really “quiet” after Dad died. First of all I want you to know that Mom had a really good life from 2006 to almost a month before she died. She was still going to church services every Sunday and attending with all her friends at all the quiltings, she still picked apples in our orchard on a stepladder, she cooked and cleaned the “doddy house” and yes she even continued canning. My sister even came all the way from out west so my 2 single sisters could be with mom every day. The last month she mostly stayed home but still ate regular cooked meals and quilted and did puzzles and read and sorted out all “her little bank accounts” (she had over a dozen and a half.) In fact she still had the inheritance her father left her in 1953 when he died. My mom was a VERY thrifty industrious lady. She even wrote a small story of her family life for us. Most importantly my dear mother was a excellent Christian woman, mother and wife. Especially the last month I was often checking in on her as the health care workers and doctors were coming and going from the house and mom always reassured me she was OK and not to be scared, must have faith etc…In my parents church “anointing with oil” as per the Bible is VERY rarely done and it is a very private affair between the ill person and the elders of the church and so I was very surprised when mom told me about 7 days before she died that she had requested to be annotated with oil and the elders immediately complied with her request. Mom testified that she was “always being prepared for death” but she testified that after the anointing she felt “a peace come over her” and she was not scared, she was no longer even slightly apprehensive about her pending death. (True Peace From GOD) Only God knows EXACTLY WHAT she was praying for! Sure enough the last time I spoke with my Mom was late evening just before she died and after everyone in the family had said their goodbye’s and God Speed…I was the only one to linger behind when the rest of the group left and my mom suddenly opened her eyes again and held out her hand and said “Don’t worry delmer EVERYTHING WILL BE ARRIGHT”! and she smiled and closed her eyes…and she is completely asleep TIL Jesus comes back AND Forever begins!!! Mom never suffered and even in the last month when she was mostly in bed sleeping a lot she was so well take care of by the nurses and doctors that came into the house…the medication they gave he was very very accurately administered so was completely conscious and feeling completely normal and would never have to put up with any pain…there was a little dial that could be self adjusted whenever she felt even the slightest twinge of uncomfort (of course there was always one of my two sisters keeping watch. The bad news is Cancer is satans disease for many good Christians nowadays but the good news is the healthcare industry has pain management for cancer patients right down pat. At my parents church they still hand dig the graves and after being a pall-bearer so many times in my life this funeral was all taken care of by my young cousins…what a humbling experience. This is my experience with my dear mother’s death, however even though satan is raging knowing he has little time left…If it was/is God’s will that someone Lives, THEY WILL! I do not trust doctors as they are part of ‘the system” so I would encourage you to get SEVERAL opinions about anything pertinent. I would NOT give up TILL GOD tells you to. We know that GOD is NOT a GOD of confusion, so it will not be mixed message! Gods Holy Spirit will guide you definatively. Since I have never met you and I do not know all your circumstances I was not satisfied just picking one verse for you, so here is a variety of Scripture verses. May God Bless you both and Protect you both from evil till you both see His face and hear those precious words “well done my good and faithful servant” . Best Regards; Delmer B. Martin (from Elmira Ontario Canada)
    Corinthians 1: 3-6 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.
    2 Corinthians 4: 16-18 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
    Deuteronomy 31: 6 Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
    Hebrews 4: 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
    Hebrews 12:1-2 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
    Isaiah 40: 31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
    Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
    Isaiah 43:1-7 But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.
    Isaiah 44:8 Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.
    James 5:13-16 “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
    John 11: 24-25 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
    John 14: 1-4 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.
    John 16: 20-22 “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”
    Job:19: 25-26 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
    Matthew 11: 28-29 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
    Philippians 4: 6-7 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
    Philippians 4: 19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
    Proverbs 3: 5-6 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
    Psalms 6:2 Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed.
    Psalms 18:6 In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.
    Psalm 30: 1-3 I will extol thee, O LORD; for thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me. O LORD my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me. O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.
    Psalm 33: 18-22 Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name. Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.
    Psalm 34:19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
    Psalm 41: 2-3 The LORD will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies. The LORD will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.
    Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
    Psalm 91- 1-4 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
    Psalm 103: 13-14 “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.”
    Psalm 107: 19-20 Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses. He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.
    Psalm 138: 3 In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.
    Romans 8: 24-25 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
    Revelations 21: 1-7 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
    Revelations 14: 12-13 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.
    Numbers 6: 24-26 The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
    AMEN

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