On the Corner

by Robert Docter – 

I love April.

Carried on a gentle wind, it seems to sing its own song. A chorus of voices catches the brilliant rays of a bright new day and warms my heart. It sings a song of promise and hope. And everywhere, evidence bursts forth to shower us with new expectations.

I love April.

The first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox always falls in April. It announces Easter. It speaks of Today and Tomorrow and tells us to forget Yesterday. The irretrievable past is dead and gone, only a history to learn from–never a place to live.

Easter speaks of new life, new hope, new ideas, new directions, new energy. The grief following the death of Yesterday dissipates and disappears, to be resurrected in the hope of Tomorrow’s arrival.

Some seem to choose to live as if Yesterday was Today–refusing to believe that what once was is no more. They carry its burden. It drains their strength. They walk through life with back bowed and head down too exhausted to sing April’s song. They deny its beauty and vitality and choose to live with a dead Yesterday.

Some seem locked into the cacophony of Yesterday–deaf to the promise of Tomorrow. They fall back on old habit patterns to rescue them from the insecurities of the unknown Tomorrow. They seem unwilling to cope with the demands of the new and, sensing stress and threat, enter either a “fight” or “flight” mode. They resist physically and emotionally. They deny hope. They flee to safer, more predictable surroundings and pursuits. For some, this is a retreat to addiction. For others it’s a rejection of anything new that might challenge the wisdom and validity of the “tried and true.”

April’s song is new.

I speak of new cities and new people
I tell you the past is a bucket of ashes.
I tell you yesterday is a wind gone down,
A sun dropped in the west.

I tell you there is nothing in the world
Only an ocean of tomorrows,
A sky of tomorrows.
— Carl Sandberg

While dated in the middle of winter, the Report of the International Commission on Officership arrived in April. With it comes the most widespread survey of Salvation Army officers ever attempted. John Gowans wants to know what every individual officer in the world–retired or active–thinks about the Commis-sion’s recommendations. Its speaks clearly about Tomorrow and recommends significant changes in the way this international and multi-cultural Army operates. Some traditions, once deemed almost sacred, are recommended for abandonment. New ideas are suggested, and the melodies they sing leap off the pages to tantalize our ears.

Although three non-officer soldiers were members of the 23 member commission, I only regret the request for consultation did not seek to sample the views of Army laypersons. Many of the changes, if implemented, clearly affect the affairs of our churches.

And so, a new song springs forth with April’s breeze and radiates throughout the Army world.

April’s song is always singable and simple. One lyric I love says: Take me out to the ball game … April means the sound of balls hitting bats, the smell of new mown fields of grass, the hum of the stands, and the brilliance and beauty of dancing men in the ballet that is baseball. Yes ­ April says “play ball”–start anew–everyone’s batting a thousand–hope fills the air and will not be denied.

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