August Oranges

august oranges

All little miniature beginnings but all “beautiful in their time,” like the dark green August oranges in the court below.  The fact that they have got thus far into being is more than a promise.  Like all the promises of God they are (given the conditions) an accomplishment begun.  “His ‘Yea’ only waits our ‘Amen.'”   Diary 1906

I gaze at the picture posted on our daughter’s Facebook wall.  Three tow-haired children, toasted brown by the summer sun, freshly scrubbed, hair brushed and clad in brand new clothes – ready for their first day of school.  They are sitting at the kitchen table, name holders identifying their place by their new classes:  “6th Grader; 4 Grader; 1st Grader.  Such an attitude of expectancy.  Fresh start.  New beginning.  

There is something about new beginnings!  Evelyn Bence captures the spirit of expectancy in the prologue of her book, New Beginnings: Celebrate the Fresh Starts of Life:  “A new beginning.  A fresh start.  A clean slate.  There is something almost irresistible about a new beginning.  Whether it’s starting a new job, moving into a new home, enrolling in a new school, or beginning a new relationship, a new venture makes you feel like a child on the first day of school. Armed with a fistful of newly sharpened pencils and an unsoiled notebook tucked under your arm, you stand prepared for the new adventure.  Your stomach flutters with anticipation as you face new challenges and new lessons.  Lessons of courage and valor, perhaps.  Certainly lessons of achievement and failure. But above all else, a new beginning represents hope.”

Hope!  There is something about new beginnings that appeals to a universal (if latent) sense of hope.  It holds the promise of something more – or different.  A new chance.  Change.  Look at newness in nature:  a seed, a bud, a sapling.  Consider the same in humankind:  a dream, a project, a job, a location.  Perhaps, we see it most in a new-born baby – untouched by life yet brimming with possibilities.   

I remember holding our third (and last) newborn baby in my arms, listening to the song, “I Am a Promise,” on a Gaither Trio record (yes, record!) given to me by my mother.  Perhaps it was the season (Christmas) or maybe hormones (given the recent birth) but I was overcome with emotion as I considered the unknown possibilities in this little bundle of humanity:  

“You are a promise

You are a possibility

You are a promise with a capital ‘P’

You are a great big bundle of potentiality. . .

You are a promise to be anything God wants you to be.”

New beginnings signal all the above:  possibility. . . promise. . . potentiality. . .  This was the sermon the “dark green August oranges” preached to Lilias towards the end of what was arguably the three most difficult years in Algiers.  The local government continually sabotaged their ministry through varied and creative forms of oppression severely limiting their programs and reducing the involvement of the Arab people.  Lilias’s compromised health forced an extended period of rest away from the rigors of Algiers and, even upon return, months of continuing weakness limited her activities.  There were disappointments with the closest of their Arab friends. 

 Yet, even in the darkest months of unrelenting difficulty – inward and outward – there were rays of hope:  “dark green August oranges” holding more than a promise in their new beginnings.  First, was an advance in literature:  developing story parables firmly set in the context and customs of Algeria as well as a revision of parts of the New Testament into a truly colloquial Arabic.

Then, even more amazingly, came the opportunity to buy an old native house, in the nearby suburb of El Biar, at a sum only slightly greater than the cottage they sought for relief from the summer heat and humidity. Lilias viewed the rambling house crowning the hillside of vineyards and firwood and reveled in the possibilities for the future:  a training center, a halfway house for fledgling believers, rallies for Christian workers, guest rooms for weary workers.  “It seemed like a fairy tale of dreams suddenly dropped down to earth – yet with a curious sense that it was no dream but a wonderful bit of God’s unfoldings. . .  Such visions come of what God might make of it – & the only answer I get when I ask Him what it means is “He Himself knew what He would do.”  

“Dark green August oranges” –  time alone would fully reveal God’s plan but  “the fact that they got thus far into being is more than a promise of what was to come.”   Each individual “orange” indicated the promise of work begun and, “like all the promises of God they are (given the conditions) an accomplishment begun.”    

Life is growth and change.  It is never static.  God has purposes and promises for what He intends for our lives.  If only we listen.  And are patient. We must faithfully tend the  “dark  green oranges” – not disparaging their size and color – as they are more than a promise of an accomplishment begun.

The key, I believe, is in the rest of the simple song:  “And if you listen you’ll hear God’s voice, and if you’re trying He’ll help you make the right choice, and you can be anything God wants you to be. ” And, I might add, “do anything God wants you to do.”  When we are attuned to God’s voice, present to His Spirit then, as Lilias writes, “His ‘Yea’ only waits our ‘Amen.'”  

What are the “dark green August oranges” in my life?  In your life?  The beginning of a relationship. . . a new job. . . a move to a new location. . . the start (or restart) of a project or ministry. . .  perhaps it is a new approach to an old situation or relationship . .  a phase in life. . .  the embrace of a dream deferred. . .

“All little miniature beginnings are ‘beautiful in their time,’ like the dark green August oranges.  Like all the promises of God they are (given the conditions) an accomplishment begun!” 

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.”

Ecclesiastes 3:11

Painting:  Diary 10 August 1906

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8 Responses to August Oranges

  1. lynndmorrissey says:

    Miriam, if you wrote this for no one else, you wrote it for me. Am I listening to God? Yes. Oh, yes. He has been speaking to me of beginning…….of new beginnings after seasons of loss. And I hear the echoes of His words to me yet again here in your beautifully crafted words–here in the wisdom of what Lilias wrote over one-hundred years ago (!!!). I believe God is promising me a new beginning, and I’m not sure what all it entails. But I open wide my arms to receive it, and I thank Him for this tabula-rasa opportunity to abandon sin and failure and doubt and cling to Him who makes all things new. Might I share this poem, along those lines? And thank you beyond words for being His vessel to bring hope and encouragement. You have given me an extraordinary gift this day, and I thank you with all my heart!
    PS It doesn’t show on the screnn, but when I typed this, I “bolded” the beginning letter of each sentence, which vertically spell NEW BEGINNINGS.

    New Beginnings
    by Lynn D. Morrissey

    Now, as I
    Emerge from my chrysalis,
    Wings still wet and weighted, still needing to be primed and pumped and filled with life and
    Blood and strength, before I rise air-borne, I
    Envision possibilities—what shape dried wings will take when lifted up with air,
    what horizons eyes will see when searching high above the
    Ground, high above outmoded patterns, ways of being.
    I take time now to picture and plan, practice and prepare,
    Not taking to the skies before my time,
    Not aborting my flight through over-eagerness, unsteadiness. Only
    In patience, in measured waiting and pulsèd stillness, my
    New beginning will come—suddenly,
    with a rush of wind, a whirl of wonder, in God’s own
    Good and perfect time. And because I will be ready, I will

  2. Floyd says:

    Oh man… I had no idea where my contemplation of my orange tree would take me just this day. I adjusted the water to a few months back and stopped from my break neck schedule today to study the “dark green August oranges.” There aren’t as many as last year, but the ones that are there are looking healthy. I didn’t know I’d be reading this and applying it to the rest of my life and life in general on God’s creation.

    I relish a new start… and the redemption from my Father that makes it all possible….

    Moving post, sister.

  3. I remember the song well – “You are a promise!” One of my favorites from childhood…and I passed the tradition on by singing it to my kids and purchasing a CD of the song (my children will be loading it on their ipods – or whatever is created between now and then – to play for their children!). This was a good read for me, as I am at a place of many new beginnings right now. And I can clearly visual a dark green August orange – a wonderful new image for this concept. Thanks for sharing, Mom!

    • lynndmorrissey says:

      Hi Kimberly, I just looked up your blog, and you write excellently! I left a comment on your author page. I must admit that it was a bit difficult for me to visualize a dark-green August orange, because I have never seen one :-), but like you, I am in the midst of a new beginning, so this post resonated deeply with me. It’s nice to make your acquaintance, and I LOVE anything your mother writes. In turn, she must be so very proud of you!
      Lynn Morrissey

    • mhrockness says:

      Thank you, Kimber. I guess you were (are!) one of my wonderful “bundles of potentiality!” And, you are a good reminder that we continue to “be a promise” of what God intends us to be – at each and every stage of life. All God’s blessings on this “green August orange” – this new stage in your life!!

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