I have been looking all around me to see signs of new life this Eastertide, and have been energized and delighted by what I have seen. With Ascension Day, we turn into the last days of this season which will end with Pentecost. It is time to look inside to see what the power of the Resurrection has done in me. The ancient practice of Examen is one I use often, especially in the evenings when I can reflect on the day. However, today I can do the examen with an eyes to gratitude in this Easter season: what am I noticing that has been given new life by the Presence of the Spirit?
At my stage of life I have a longitudinal view over the decades of my journey with the Risen Christ that gives me great joy:
- I can see that much of my fearfulness as a young person has been transformed into a more familiar trust, something I never imagine would have happened.
- I notice that my trigger-speed judgement of others—where they belong, what their motives are, how they are to blame–has been mercifully slowed down, even held in abeyance, until I know more, can see more, and realize once again that I am not given the role of judge.
- In concert with that, I have been given much more compassion, as I am learning to bless even the ones who cause my grief. I know it only as a gift, not a result of good intentions or will power.
But I notice changes in me with the clear awareness that God is not finished with me yet. I am living in a chapter of my life in which frailty, brokenness and death are much more pronounced in me, in the people I love and in the world. They come relentlessly, not only to my elders, but to contemporaries and to younger friends. I see tiny seedlings of new life in me, but they need nurture and nourishment. I find I am needing to pray for the graces to ground me as I accompany those I love through the valley of the shadow:
- I need stamina to remain faithful in my loving when the road is long and unpredictable, and takes unexpected directions, and when people I presume to know do quite baffling things.
- I need deeper trust that the Holy One is continuing to make a way where I don’t always see a a way.
- I need to focus on the things most necessary, and not get diverted by things that don’t point me in the right direction, that take me away from first loves, that engage me in fretting and wringing my hands.
- I also need to let laughter ring widely and deeply and frequently in my spirit. I want to cultivate that Sarah-spirit, whose laughter might occasionally be inappropriate, but ultimately is a sign of rejoicing in the complex universe that is beloved of God, with thousands of nuances, surprises and curiosities.
- I want to cultivate that peaceful way of navigating the world that embodies the knowledge with Lady Julian that all will be well, and all be well and all manner of things will be well.
The coming of rain this week to our parched landscape has reminded me that small shoots of new life require several things: the sunshine of hilarity and gladness because my mourning is so repeatedly turned to laughter; the soaking of the spirit from those who risk telling me the truth; and the rich soil of those who walk and wrestle the journey of Spirit with me. All together they may continue to produce in me a harvest that produces an aroma and a beauty of a rose, or like a rose window, allow the Light of the Risen Christ to shine through. I pray it is so!
Photo of Strasbourg Cathedral, Rose Window.