Saturday, 30 March 2013

An Easter Reflection: New Beginnings

"Out of the depths of the experience of death and despair comes resurrection – unexpected, but possible, Easter is the power of inner rebirth that breaks the powers that hold us in bondage. It is the eternal “yes” that shatters every “no.”

Out of the experience of slavery and persecution comes release, new freedom – unexpected, though longed for. Passover celebrates the reality of the New Day of justice, peace, and hope that has lived for centuries in the heart of humanity.

Out of the dreary days of winter comes spring – expected, but not without surprise. Easter marks the power of life’s renewal built into the cycle of birth and growth and death on this our blue planet Earth.

May the spirit of rebirth, of freedom, of release, be with you all this season."

“Easter” by Frederick Gillis

The spirit of Easter is universal; it portrays a truth that can speak to all people in every culture at every time and in every place. It points to those moments in all our lives when something deeper within us, at the core of our being, within the marrow of our bones, that mystery that is the essence that we call soul is called out, is called forth, called to a deeper understanding of life right here, right now, in our world.

Easter is the season of re-birth and renewal. The days are becoming brighter, today officially marks the beginning of British summer time. The seasons are turning, new life is all around us, bursting into existence. Easter raises the question, what will this season this time of re-birth bring forth in us. What has been waiting to come to life within ourselves? What has been forming in this long, cold, dark winter? It seems to have been a particularly long winter this year.

We can be a troubled lot at times. Looking at our world it is easy to lose hope and to get lost in the negativity that is present in life, to become trapped in despair. We have all wandered through our long winters of discontent, we can look at our world and turn away at times from the pain and cruelty we see; we can look at our own lives and think of the pain and cruelty that has been inflicted on us, or that we ourselves have inflicted on others; we can think of the many opportunities we have missed. This can easily force us back into winters hibernation to turn away with indifference from life and love. This though is not all that life is if we look honestly at our own lives and our world we will also see so much light and goodness, freedom and courage and just plain old fashioned decency. Every day when I look at the world outside my window I see so much of this love in the ordinary lives of the ordinary people I share this spinning planet with, I should never allow the beauty of the forest to become obscured by the ugliness of some of its trees.

Easter for me is not about some distant utopia but for we who live right here right now. It’s not so much about hope for some heaven, or nirvana or even Oz in some place beyond our time and space, but about creating the commonwealth of love right here right now. Easter for me is about proclaiming that each and every one of us have our part to play in how the story unfolds, if we are just willing to wake up to all we can be, to find the courage to be all that we can be. All we have to do is listen, to pay attention to our world, to hear that still small voice and when we hear it call out our name to answer it and to bring that spirit of Easter into all that we are and we can be, to bring renewal and rebirth to life. This is our responsibility, our purpose, God will not do it for us, it is we who must build the New Jerusalem, right here, right now. God is with us, but will not do it for us.

“In Praise of Spring” by Dawn Goodrich

What courage pure with which we start
to gather fragments, bits, and parts,
with mindless grace that works and plays
and marks the seasons passing days.

What cause in us to celebrate,
With calendar and special dates,
As we may try to comprehend
Where seasons start, where seasons end?

What humanness to fix a date
And offer praise as if to bait
The inner growth we long to reach
That roots prepare and flowers teach.

What lesson wise on season’s part
To pinch the mind but squeeze the heart
While pelting us with memories
Of icy earth and naked trees?

What gift the bud, the growth, the flowers
That creep in spring and burst in power,
That cast our eyes in modest shame
And longing lust to do the same?

What flower’s strength as if on cue
Forgotten dreams that we once knew,
As winter wishes wake to sing
And feed the soul in praise of spring?

Spring is here, I know that the weather keeps on arguing against this, but it is here. My senses are alive with rebirth, especially my ears. Those birds that I hear from outside my window keep on singing their souls out, they know even if we doubt it from time to time, that we are now in the season of re-birth. Yes spring is springing into life once again. Life is singing out its re-birth.

The longer I’ve lived in my little cottage at Sylvan Grove the more those birds have come to mean to me. They are a constant in my life; they seem to sing regardless of the time of year and whether I want them to or not. Ok some days their songs are louder and perhaps the tune changes with the season, but every morning they sing. And as that little gift that was left on my doorstep the other week read “A bird does not sing because it has an answer; it sings because it has a song”. I’ve been thinking about these words for a few weeks now. What do I need the most an answer or a song to sing? I think I know the answer as anyone who knows me knows the answer, “How can I keep from singing?”

One of my favourite hymns is “A Melody of Love” I particularly love the opening verse “God speaks to us in bird and song, in winds that drift the clouds along, above the din of toil and wrong, a melody of Love.” God speaks to me through life itself, this is why it is so vital for me to stay awake to all of life.

Brings to mind Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” “Part 48” and those immortal words:

Why should I wish to see God better than this day? I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then, In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass, I find letters from God dropt in the street, and every one is sign'd by God's name, And I leave them where they are, for I know that wheresoe'er I go, Others will punctually come for ever and ever.

I see or do I mean I hear God in those birds that sing outside my window. They have kept on singing even in the coldest darkest winter. They have also become my spiritual barometer. They tell me so much about my own spiritual condition. Some days I don’t seem to be able to hear them as they sing or at least I have to strain to hear. I have noticed those are the days when I have somehow got lost in my troubles and have lost that vital connection to life and to God. Thankfully this rarely last long these days and I soon find myself back in harmony. I often wonder what other people’s spiritual barometers are, I wonder what yours are.

The day of the new beginning is now with us, I wonder what is yet to come? What life has to offer us and perhaps more importantly what we have to offer to life? At the start of Lent I said I was going to focus on what I could give to life instead of what I thought I should give up. Just because Easter has now come, I do not intend to give this up, I will continue. Life gives so much to me, when I have my senses fully awakened, when the ears of my ears are awake and the eyes of my eyes are opened. Therefore it seems only fare that I should continue giving as much as I can back to life. To keep on planting those seeds of hope and love, to leave my own love letters from God wherever I go and whatever I do. If I do I know that I will continue to receive abundantly, my whole life through.

I will end this little chip of a blog with some word by John O'Donohue

For a New Beginning

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life's desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

~ John O'Donohue ~

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