I stood beneath my neighbor’s beautiful cherry blossom tree as a breeze lilted through its thick thatched petals of pink, dislodging some of them so we were playing a scene from the moment when the Buddha awakened and petals snowed from the sky. You have no doubt your own moments of Spring Awakening as you have navigated down streets with trees blooming in a riot of pink and white and green. Our cars are coated by pollen. When we stop long enough–and sometimes a few seconds is all it takes–within the cycle of renewal and a season of life, we come to our senses and a vivid truth confronts us: none of this had to be; we do not control these seasons tightly winded and released to play their music box songs to us again and again. The fact that the universe renews itself is a fundament fact that we must ponder. Only the most cynical or arrogant among us dismiss this as though it just happens and it is no big deal. Oh, yes, it is. Indeed. That you are part of this is nothing short of a miracle.
Another fact of the universe counters the truth of renewal. Calvin would call it the depravity of human beings. I’ve no issue with his calling it this. But suffice it to say that if renewal is a constant then the human inclination to pollute, ruin and even destroy life is a fundamental fact that must be taken into consideration too. Something went wrong. The Russian poet and Soviet exile, Joseph Brodsky, talked about an “anthropological backslide” having occurred to which he immediately connected the idea of sin. And sin he said is not such a hard word to define. It simply means, he said, that “man is dangerous.” I’m not sure you have noticed but the current President has appointed persons to head departments who actually hate those departments and have been and are dedicated to ruining them. Whether it be the oversight of our environment or the nurturing of diplomacy, the appointees have held these very departments in contempt. We are being treated to a vivid depiction of cynical and Orwellian government.
What to do? let go into the mystery, as Van Morrison sings. Pause and consider the vast sums of order and precision, the fine-tuned universe beyond you and within you. And then get yourself to a sacred space and in gratitude, worship and commune. Get to a place where truth-telling is still considered possible and necessary.
~ See you Sunday
Seasonal transformation is all around us. True, we had snow last week and the temperatures have been below average so many of us are walking around with our heads down as we walk into wind gusts and wind chills that elicit grunts and curses. Where is Spring!? we ask.
Of course, Spring has erupted already. The Forsythia, the leafing out of trees, the buds and flowers that ornament streets we pass through and lanes we walk down, all remind us of this fact. The grass is greener. The transformation is under way and evolves until one magical moment when sun and warmth coincide with brilliant sky blue and landscapes of trees and flowers and we know… we have passed across the threshold of Winter into Spring.
Little wonder then that this season fills us with hope for the transformation of our own lives. Now we can take all of this for granted. We can chalk it up to how things “just happen” and pretend the world around us is deaf and dumb. But oh, it is not. The world is talking to us, it is a dialogical masterpiece threaded with conversation and information that, should we take time to hear, will inform our own lives. The psalmist declared [139:14],
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works
In this season of transformation may your and my life be transformed. May the Spirit of change and renewal restore you and make you whole. This Sunday, let us join together in praise with the entire earth, for “the time of singing has come.” ~See you Sunday
From the Song of Solomon, chapter two:
11for now the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone.
12 The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
is heard in our land.
Do not take for granted that you crossed the threshold of seasons. You were able to move from Winter to Spring. Perhaps you can hear Vivaldi’s Four Seasons playing in the background as blossoms (and pollen) fill the air. Your world has changed. You in turn are changed.
You had nothing to do with this. It happens without consulting you. The earth warms and rains appeared and the properties imbedded within plants and trees of all kinds, the song encoded into birds, these things emerged and bloomed into the world and you witness it. But you did not make it happen. How then respond? With thanks. Be grateful and if you can, add your song to the speech of birds.
You have the power, also gifted to you–you were endowed with these powers–to change. You can welcome it or hate it, play with it or try to kill it, wrestle with it, manage it, flow with it. Every season brings loss. Every season offers new chances for growth and evolution to a higher plane. So elevate. Evolve. Grieve for what is past but do not try to live there. It offers you no soil, no water nor sun. You have moved from Winter into Spring and with this, you can also change and deepen your life. Stop. Can you hear the turtle dove?
As you enter the sanctuary this Sunday, I am going to preach on what cannot be lost and talk somewhat about grief work but as well, the work of faith, hope and love and the blessed assurance that your soul in Christ is well. ~See you Sunday.