But I can't really complain, because I'm only affected for a little over a month each year, and only badly for a couple of weeks. There are moments, however - and this morning so far has been one long moment, where every nerve in my body seems to be irritated to the nth degree, and I'm almost unwilling to breath in for fear of overloading my sinuses and exploding, right there in the spot.
"You'd think a good, hard sneeze would pretty much take care of the allergens and make my sinuses happy," I said to one of my friends the other day.
"No, when you sneeze like that it just pisses them off," he replied. "Then they spend the next hour making you pay."
So this morning I returned from my long walk with Scout with a yellow film of pollen covering my shoes and a couple of tons of the stuff compacted inside my nose, eyes, ears and throat. Then, through the haze of watery eyes, I saw the plus side of pollen making its grand entrance into the day.
It seemed as if every amaryllis in the garden had chosen that precise moment to bloom. There, up against the back fence and just catching the first rays of morning light, they spoke eloquently to the fact that something amazing happens in response to the imperative of spring.
Then a wild rose bush caught my eye, then an azalea; and, finally, a spectacular lily under the tall cedar behind the 7th green.
It's important to understand what exactly is the problem - that would be the five cubic-yards of pollen currently inside my head - and what is simply an innocent bystander. The flowers do nothing all day other than look spectacular and sing the praises of their Creator... yet my tendency is to throw everything in together, sulk inside a house with closed windows all day, and insist that I'm allergic to the entire month of April.
I couldn't help but think - again - about the awesome privilege I have to be involved with men's ministry all across these United States. Too many men believe that they're allergic to transformational faith initiatives; they stay closed up inside resistant hearts because they're tired of being constantly irritated by the disingenuous, the hokey (apologies to V.Tech), the manipulative and the political.
So they retreat, closing the doors and windows to protect themselves, and they miss the fresh bloom of the new creation God initiates every day.
Guys! Listen up! It's not God's good work in you that's the allergen, the irritant. You're throwing out Spring with the pollen!
When my dad had his heart surgery last fall, the doctors had to work hard to break through an outer casing (a calcified, tough to negotiate membrane) before they could do the repair work inside. Sometimes our hearts need to be broken before they can be healed.
If we're resistant to the initial breaking because we've learned to be suspicious of the entire spiritual package... then we miss the real work of Spring.