Today we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Unitarian congregation in Altrincham.
Trees and bushes have been speaking to me all this year, as have the beautiful flowers that grow from them. It really began at the end of last year, at a time of loss and pain in my own life and those I hold most dear. My sister, our Mand, told me of a single rose she had seen right in the midst of winter, both physical winter and a personal winter too. This rose lifted her spirit and as she told me of it, it lifted me too. That winter rose brought hope that love will survive any of the biting frost that can threaten our lives. This year I’ve been seeing roses everywhere, the most beautiful I have ever seen…They have become a symbol of hope to me…“And I’ll bring you hope, when hope is hard to find and I’ll bring a song of love and a rose in the winter time.”
Or as Erich Fromm observed “To hope means to be ready at every moment for that which is not yet born, and yet not become desperate if there is no birth in our lifetime, Those whose hope is weak settle for comfort or for violence; those whose hope is strong see and cherish signs of new life and are ready every moment to help the birth of that which is ready to be born.”
So what can we do in our time and place, how do we plant seeds of hope in our time and place? How do we take care of our link in the chain of life, in the chain of history? How can we ready ourselves “to help bring to birth that which is ready to be born”?
I’m going to end today with a little story, entitled “Building a Cathedral” (Taken from "Concentration and Compassion" by Bill Darlison)
When the great Cathedral of Chatres was being built in the 13th century, a traveller happened to be passing by the construction site. He was amazed at the number of workers involved in the project and the variety of jobs being done. He approached a carpenter and asked, “What exactly are you doing here?”
“I’m sawing wood, what on earth does it look like I’m doing?” came the curt reply.
The traveller then approached a stonemason and asked him the very same question, to which he replied,
“I’m earning a living, I’ve got a wife and children to support.”
However, a third man, an unskilled worker who looked to be sweeping up after the others, said with a beaming smile, “Can’t you see? I’m building a cathedral!”
So I say to you let’s go build Cathedrals in our own hearts, let’s take them out into our world and make every inch of this world holy ground once more…Let us consecrate, let us bless everything and everyone we touch...Everything matters you know, every breath, every feeling, every thought, every deed impacts in some way on the chain of life…Everything matters…
“Cos I’ll bring you hope, when hope is hard to find and I’ll bring a song of love and a rose in the winter time,”