Tag Archives: Easter Season

Resurrection, naturally

Ellie May 2015 WalkOh yes, I’m still here. As is so often the case, I disappear for extended periods of time, for no particular reason – and the days following Easter are often among them!

Add to that a little surgery had me resting more than writing. Plus the weather has finally improved tremendously, and I have been outside enjoying it all, going on long walks with our dog Ellie. Spring has sprung at last!

Which gets me to to this – walking around the woods, or even just my own yard during spring reveals the glory of God in nature. This is not news, but for some reason this year I seem to be more aware of life in the conditions around me in the natural world. Winter hit me hard this year, in a way that it typically does not; its glacial grip around my soul was beyond numbing.

Snowpack March 2015As recently as a month ago, we still had some remaining plowed snow that was covered with dirt. Blocks of old snow/ice – solid and nearly unbreakable, and not in a good way. That glacial grip remained. Like bulbs I planted last autumn, those dry hard little things going down dark and deep, my own unreconciled feelings, were buried in our dry and sandy soil that had frozen over, and was covered by this dark mess.

Crocus April 2015Tulip May 2015Yet, Spring arrived in full, and that gritty pack ice near the curb has slowly melted and washed away. Suddenly green things were emerging – grass, shoots, and leaves. (Sorry – as a writer and a poor copy editor of my own work, I could not resist that one!) The branches of trees which not so long ago appeared dessicated and devoid of any new growth, were sprouting little green tips. And those dang bulbs – up came the green, followed by crocus, then daffodils, and now tulips.

Magnolia bud March 2015No matter how dead something appears, God stirs up the Spirit in the form of new or renewed life. Even in the depth of my winter ennui in those waning days of Lent, the first buds on the magnolia tree outside of my office window caught my attention. On March 24, I decided that I would take a picture every day, or almost every day, and post it on Instagram with the hashtag #magnoliawatch. God uses every means possible to get into our hearts. Why wouldn’t God use using social media and hashtags to get our attention?

 

Those magnolia buds became my beloved quotidian companions. What might I note from one day to the next? Was the cold too much, would the tree prevail? When would the blooms finally spring forth? Like a bird tending a nest, I was attuned to the slightest details and just as protective!

Full Magnolia White May 2015Full Magnolia Pink 2015At this point the tree has not simply bloomed, petals are already falling to the ground. Make no mistake, the tree is spectacular and I’m in love with all those big pink and white puffballs exploding in color at the end of each branch and twig. However, I see the fallen ones, and while I mourn, I also feel joy. The tree flowers intensely now, but will offer me green shade all summer long. There will be no grieving for the petals for me this year, just an embrace of what follows.

Magnolia May 2015 Full GloryEvery walk I take this Spring reveals new glories and joy, signs and wonders made plain in the flora and fauna of this ecosystem. God appears to have illustrated our Easter season readings and prayers in the growth all around me, and within me. Naturally!

Blessings of Spring to you, blessings of this continued Eastertide!

(Tonight on Tuesday, May 5 at 7PM, we will have Evening Prayer at St. Edward the Confessor. All are welcome for this time of music, prayer and reflection. Please join us!)

Comments Off on Resurrection, naturally

Filed under Easter, Easter Season

Taking a leap of doubt – a reflection for the Second Sunday of Easter

doubtPoor doubt, I feel kind of sorry for it. Doubt takes such a beating in our culture, and I think that is rather unfortunate. Where would faith be, if not for doubt? Like night and day, like good and evil, like joy and sorrow… well, like so many other opposite points, the space between them is where all the real action is found. How can we so carelessly toss doubt aside, as if it negates everything? For me, the deepest anchors of faith are not dropped in surety and certitude, but deep in the ocean of doubt.

Is our faith more about making leaps of doubt, rather than leaps of faith alone? Can one exist without the other?

Somewhere around 2005 I heard a radio program on the topic of doubt and I was hooked on doubt as a topic to explore. “A History of Doubt” first aired on what was then called “Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett,” in 2003. Tippett’s program, and now podcast, is know known as “On Being,” and “A History of Doubt” continues to find an audience. The program features Jennifer Michael Hecht, who has made doubt a field of study and exploration.

Today’s Gospel, one of the most familiar, even to those who do not follow the Gospel, is about “doubting Thomas.” When I was a kid, I used to think badly of Thomas. Was my point of view informed by my faith education? Probably. I don’t have any specific recollection of hearing this – or any other Gospel – as a child, but my “religious instruction” classes, I do remember. Please know that I was spared any “mean” priests or nuns, so none of this is couched in that. What I do remember is that we were instructed that is that doubt was the opposite of faith. It seemed reasonable enough to me, so I went along with it… when I was 10.

Today I have no such vision. What about you? I can only speak for myself when I say that my faith, something that is so real, so powerful, at the heart of my being, is infused with the on-going scent of doubt. Are you shocked or scandalized to hear this?

Not too long ago, I wrote about our new Holy Father, Pope Francis, calling him a dangerous man. One of the images that I was holding at that point, was that of the certitude of some of the Pharisees who not only doubted Jesus, but who used that doubt to plot the death of Jesus.

This is one of the challenges of doubt, at least from where I am. Perhaps it is not doubt that comes first, but what comes first is a certain “knowing.” Doesn’t such certitude, such absolutism, say that there is little room for God? What does such certainty do, when God in fact, can never conform to our limited capacity for knowing God?

So what does this have to do with today’s Gospel? Thomas certainly knew Jesus, didn’t he? But did Thomas know Christ? No – not until that moment of encounter. Go ahead, says Jesus, stick your hand in there, this is for real.

Crooked Kisses and Other WoundsHere is something that I have no doubt of… If Jesus were standing before me, I might faint before I stuck my hand inside of his wound! And perhaps this is where this Gospel leads us to…

What are we so sure of? Do we really love Jesus as much as we say that we do? I mean really, think about it… are you ready to thrust your hand deep into the wound of anyone, even those you love most? Isn’t that what Jesus is asking us to do?

imagesLoving Jesus with such hard-core certitude and thinking about how that smarty pants Thomas should have thought twice before questioning God is one thing. It would seem that another way of seeing this is that Thomas offers us a gift… Jesus asks us to enter into the wounds of all. I’m sorry, but that makes me queasy when I think of physical wounds, and overwhelmed when I think of all the other wounds, the ones we can’t see, but that are present in all of us. Thomas, seemingly undaunted, leads the way.

Suddenly certainty has dispersed like fog in the midday sun. We can be so “certain” of so many things, but can we place ourselves inside of the bloody wound? And how can we live Christian lives of sacrifice and service unless we do precisely that – literally and figuratively?

This is where Thomas leads me, and I am grateful to him, and to God, for bringing me to this place where I shrink back, recoiling perhaps in utter horror. Listen, I am VERY squeamish, the thought of such things sends me reeling. Now I can castigate myself for this, or I can see it as an invitation to change.

And is that not what our faith really is, our belief in the Risen Lord? This faith centers around a Triune God, always inviting us, always challenging us, but always welcoming us, to a kind of transformation. That transformation also means moving from doubt to faith, and the constant criss-cross of that territory, for the whole of our lives.

Doubt is nothing to be feared; I believe that doubt is to be befriended. In fact, maybe what we are called to are not only “leaps of faith,” but also of the aforementioned, “leaps of doubt.” Doubt can act as our greatest guide, the very force that leads us into the wounds of Christ and the on-going transformation that follows. I never doubt that is the way of the Lord, and I never doubt how hard it is to follow and believe in God, living as a Christian. This is no one-time decision, made in certitude and lived in certitude; it is an invitation into the mystery of our faith, a life lived in Christ Jesus. To do that we must follow and follow and follow…

search_of_certainty1Every day, in one fashion or another, propelled by my doubts, I seek to live more deeply in my faith. Yes, a good leap of doubt, taken with a heart of faith, can bring us, like it brought Thomas, closer to the Lord, without a doubt.

Comments Off on Taking a leap of doubt – a reflection for the Second Sunday of Easter

Filed under doubt, Easter, Easter Season

Easter Season Reflection – April 3, 2013

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In today’s Gospel, we hear the familiar story of the road to Emmaus. In this story, two disciples, leave Jerusalem full of disappointment over Jesus’ death. They encounter a stranger, who turns out to be… well either you know, or you don’t, and if you don’t this would be a spoiler. Go ahead, read the passage, it is right here. This may be familiar, but let me tell you, every year I hear about the road to Emmaus, or read it, I feel such excitement. Sort of like my heart burning within me, but in a good way, not an antacid way!

This story always reminds me of the many ways and times that I have unexpectedly encountered Jesus. No, regrettably I do not always realize that it is Jesus I am speaking with, but somehow my heart starts to burn within. And this has happened with every sort of person, which gratefully, IMHO anyway, is a gift. Jesus has the potential to be in all of us, especially in the most unlikely places.

What are some of your “Emmaus” moments, when your heart was burning within you and then you realized that you had just spent time with Jesus? I hope that some of you will take the time to share your experiences in the comments.

One place where I have trod that road to Emmaus, has been graduate school. During the summer of 2008, I began a conversation with Katherine Hanley, CSJ, PhD, known to most of us as Sister Kitty, about studying at the Albany extension of St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry. A few short weeks later, I walked into my first class, and my heart has been burning within me ever since. Tonight I will walk into the final session of my last class, heart burning, of course!

Burning hearts aside, it should not be a surprise that I love this Gospel, especially if you read the last line.

Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

There will be bread, and in this way, we come to know Christ, always. (My personal blog is called, There Will Be Bread.)

Please share your own Emmaus moments in the comments!

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized