The 5th Sunday in Lent: reading the texts chosen for use in church this Sunday, I get a strange feeling of foreboding coupled with almost a sense that we are in sight of resurrection. (Jer 31 31-34; ps 50 (51); Heb 5 7-9; John 12 20-33). But we have to wait – in the same way that we wait for Spring – we think we are there with the bird-song, the early flowering trees, the buds on the magnolia, & yet we lurch back into winter a day later & fear frost that will kill off some of the beauty.
So our reflections today pick up this ambiguous moment & the waiting that is asked of us.
They end with ‘Deep Peace’ from Sacred Pathways. Maybe this week we can extend our blessing to all who wait & particularly those who wait anxiously – at a bedside, for a diagnosis, for a decision about employment – for ………….
With love to you all & good wishes for the week ahead.
The sun warms my back
while the black earth carries the memory of winter’s icy grip.
Frost fingers spring’s first bold beginnings threateningly,
But the budding of trees betrays nature’s secret understanding of death & resurrection.
This is a good time for me, between snowdrop & daffodil;
I would wish perhaps to spend eternity here on the threshold of things – expectant.
Nevertheless, even here, I grope for meaning (instead of simply being);
Resurrection, salvation, redemption,
Each subject to me a process rather than a condition,
An ebb & flow, a signpost rather than a destination.
For now it is sufficient to have caught a glimpse of that possibility.
This time between snowdrop & daffodil encourages me to wait.
From The Spirit of Place by Adrienne Rich
The work of winter starts fermenting in my head
how with the hands of a lover or a midwife
to hold back till the time is right
force nothing, be unforced
accept no giant miracles of growth
by counterfeit light
trust roots, allow the days to shrink
give credence to these slender means
wait without sadness and with grave impatience
here in the north where winter has a meaning
where the heaped colours suddenly go ashen
where nothing is promised
learn what an underground journey
has been, might have to be; speak in a winter code
let fog, sleet, translate; wind, carry them.
I want to beg you, as much as I can to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you win then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
Trust in the Slow Work of God.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way
to something unknown, something new.
Yet it is the law of all progress, that it is made by passing through some stages of instability, and that may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you.
Your ideas mature gradually. Let them grow.
Let them shape themselves without undue haste.
Do not try to force them on
as though you could be today what time-that is to say, grace- and circumstances
acting on your own good will will make you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new Spirit gradually forming in you will be.
Give our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God, our loving vine-dresser.
Teilhard de Chardin