Sunday, March 29, 2009
Friday morning I walked by this area in the fog and saw nothing. Friday noon I drove by and there they were, the first spring flowers I see here in the mountains where I live. The bit of sun filtering through the clouds was enough to open them. I think they are called "groundsels." They keep close to the ground for protection against the frosts that can show up until mid-May.
It makes me happy to see them. As much as I like winter and snow, I am ready now for spring. This cycle of the seasons is one way, I think, that God has of helping us to get some purchase on the mystery of death. Death must precede new life as surely as winter's apparent death precedes spring's new life.
Friday, March 27, 2009
In John's Gospel Jesus says, "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it produces much fruit." (12:24) John does not have the scene of Jesus in the garden struggling to accept the suffering and death that is God's will. Here in John, Jesus not so much struggles as understands. A seed has to die if there is going to be any fruit. A few verses later Jesus says, "When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all things to myself." These two verses can serve us well in the next two weeks leading up to Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
If Jesus doesn't die, he remains just a single person. But if he dies, he rises to abundant life for himself and for all the world. In our lives we face a kind of death in whatever sufferings come our way. Embracing those crosses in union with the Risen Jesus living within us can bring us into his new and abundant life.
I chose this picture from last summer because of the abundant blossoms but also because the butterfly has to go through a kind of death to become a its gorgeous self.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Waiting is an important part of the spiritual life. Being able to sit still while apparently nothing is happening is essential in any relationship, especiallly in our relationship with our God, who is Mystery.
This field is not far from my house. I took this picture on a recent warm morning. Everything looked like it was waiting. The long weeds that had been crushed by the winter snows. The bare trees. A little glimpse of a red oak with its ruddy leaves ready to fall when spring gifts it with green. Apparently nothing is happening, but out of sight in the ground and in the branches new life is rising. The same with God. Just wait!
Friday, March 20, 2009
The picture I took of the rising sun this morning made onto the blog just briefly. Let's try again.
I'm writing this now as the sun has just set, 12 hours after the picture was taken. A promise of more daylight ahead.
In a small room with a south facing glass wall I spent some time this morning sitting and reading and soaking up the warmth of the sun. It got me longing for the summer when I could sit outside in the sun.
Often when I am soaking up the sun I think of God's warm life soaking into me and I long for more of that as well.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
In The Confession of Saint Patrick, one of two authentic writings of Patrick that we have, he tells us that once while he was sleeping he felt incapable of moving any of his limbs. He goes on to say, "While this was taking place I saw the sun rising in the sky and while I was crying out 'Elijah! Elijah!' with all my strength, the next thing that happened was that the radiance of that sun fell upon me and at once dispersed from me all paralysis, and I believe that I was succored by Christ my Lord...." (Patrick is writing in Latin where the word for Elijah is "Helias." The Greek word for the sun is "helios.")
Near the end of the Confession he says, "On that Day we shall rise in the radiance of the sun, that is in the glory of Christ Jesus our Redeemer....For the sun which we see rises every day for our benefit at his behest, but it will never reign nor will its radiance endure....But we who believe in and adore the true sun, Christ...."
Before Christianity came to Ireland, the people worshipped everything in nature as Divine, especially the sun. Saint Patrick builds on this to bring them to Jesus, while at the same time making it clear that the sun is not God. For a long time I have thought that this recognition of the Divine in nature made the Irish fertile ground for Christianity. I suspect that something in my blood, as well as in my faith, inclines me to find God in all the glories of nature around me.
Friday, March 13, 2009
The Lake melted last Sunday. It was all ice on Saturday. On Sunday I went away in the dark in the morning and came back in the dark in the evening. Monday morning I thought that something looked different, but for a moment or two I didn't realize that there was no ice anywhere.
These ducks found out quickly enough. They showed up Monday and today seem to have gone on. I think most of them were buffleheads. At one point a Canada goose landed among them, but I didn't see any of his buddies. As I tried to get close enough to get a good picture of these ducks I flushed four out of a ditch about four feet in front of me. The ditch is deep and I hadn't seen them. They scared me and were gone before I could think of snapping a picture.
This morning I noticed a tree swallow checking out the blue bird house that I keep in the front yard. The tree swallows come early and almost always claim the house well before the blue birds arrive.
The coming of the birds and the thawing of the Lake seem to loosen up something inside me and make me think of change and New Life.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
The Winter Special Olympics took place at the nearby ski resort on Monday and Tuesday. Downhill, cross country, and snowshoe races. With the wind chill factor the temperature was well below zero both days. I went over on Tuesday. I can't recall ever being so cold. I was impressed with the athletes' ability to put up with the bitter cold and also with their determination. I was even more impressed with the volunteers who worked as timers and escorts for the athletes. Most of the volunteers were out all day in that intense cold.
We human beings are a marvelous lot.