VINCENT’S CREATIVITY, ON CANVAS AND IN LIFE

I completed my bachelor of social work degree in Kansas City several decades ago and I remember having to[…]

You Love What You Know: Hearing Mother Earth

Council of All Beings Our message will come in a different form this morning.  Today we will have the[…]

Reflections

 

I tuned in to last Sunday’s service and listened to Rev. Jim Bortell speak about his memories of Palm Sunday, and that those memories from past years weren’t necessarily spiritual in nature, but more about the excitement of tangibly getting and playing with the palms.

And then a couple of you chimed in that his sharing brought you back to yesteryear’s Palm Sundays with similar memories, and I had the very same experience zooming in from my kitchen.

And then I starting thinking about Easter, and it was the same theme…childhood memories of nothing particularly religious, but instead of the delight of Easter egg hunts with my four siblings, racing around the large yard surrounding the old farm house in which we lived, each of us determined  to find the most eggs.

Some years back, graduated from being the hunter of brightly colored dyed eggs, I also recall being the hider of such gems for my own children, currently in their 20’s and themselves now graduated from such Easter time traditions.

We look forward to our newly arrived nephew Bennett being old enough to resurrect this holiday tradition.

The absence of the Easter egg-travaganzas, coloring and hiding or seeking has given me time to reflect on this from a less nostalgic and finally a more spiritual perspective.  This is what I’ve come up with…

As people of faith we too are seekers for gems, spiritual ones.   The difference between our walk of faith and Easter egg hunting is that we’re not looking for something that’s been hidden in out-of-the-way places.

The soulful treasure of holiness and its resulting fulfillment that we devote our lives to seeking may appear hidden because at times it seems elusive, leaving feeling ‘in the weeds’ like many an Easter egg.

Our imperative is to come to understand and then notice that that which we seek is everywhere and in plain sight.

But how often do we overlook it?

This is part of the gift of Easter, tweaking our lens, adjusting our vision to see more clearly what’s right in front of us, like our eyes adjusting to see in the dark.

And to focus our tweaked lens more on the ‘in the dark’ thing, part of the gift of Easter is holding on to faith and even finding grace in the darker parts of our lives

The thing is, there will always be darkness.  Just as each day gives way to the darkness of nighttime, so does each of our lives endure the darkness of heart ache.

We weren’t created to avoid the darkness of suffering.  The beauty of Easter is bringing light into darkness, not to completely dispel it, but to bring balance to it,

because darkness is a part of the fabric of our existence, and that fabric clothes us ultimately in wisdom and fortitude if we allow it.

If you think about it…the wisdom of our holy book begins with this….

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

One day…one-ness…balance.

Author Annie Dillard spoke to this when she said: You do not have to sit outside in the dark. If, however, you want to behold the stars, you will find that darkness is necessary.

This is the blessing of Lent emerging into Easter…the coexistence, the yin and yang of darkness and light, resulting in wholeness.

Darkness woven with light, grief balanced with joy, loss intersecting with new life.

This is not a new narrative.  But how do we bring meaning to it?  How do we apply a 2,000 year-old story to our lives so that it actually makes a difference?

By tweaking our focus to see what’s in plain sight.

Here’s an example from my current life.

At our new house the back yard isn’t really a yard, it’s more of a natural wooded area, about a quarter acre, surrounded by our neighbors’ more regular looking back yards.

I’ve been anxious to get a fence erected back there so I don’t have to walk our dogs every time they need to go out.

A contractor who came to give us a bid for a fence mentioned that the presence of a fence would keep the deer out.

You see, often, in the early morning hours, and sometimes in the softness of evening time, we’ll see deer back there.

These deer bring comfort to Lisa’s heart.  For the last nearly 30 years she’s lived on 4-acre wooded lot, and regularly seeing wildlife in her yard was a cherished part of her existence there.

Transitioning from that special place an hour away in the outskirts of Chillicothe to our new home in Bloomington has been no small thing.

Despite a soulful sense of knowing that this move is the right thing, it nonetheless brings loss and some grief.

While the loss of this beloved property, aptly named Camp Chillicothe by her nieces, is real, the deer in the new backyard are balm for that loss.

Quietly coming in the darkness without fanfare, they bring new life, if we’ll just remain open, literally, to them.

There will be no new fence.

This is a tidy story that fits our purposes today.  But it’s not always quite that simple… remaining attentive to avoid enclosure/fencing ourselves in.

A new Beatitude might be: Blessed are those who remain spiritually awake long enough, and arise from sleep early enough, to experience the deer life that the darkness can bring.

Lent is over, Easter has arrived, along with buds on the bushes, daffodils in the gardens, blossoms in the trees.

And yet…

Darkness will come this evening.  And then a new day will be born, the moment after midnight, in the dark of night.

The deer in our back space is an example of life, blessing, joy emerging from the darkness in our lives.  It’s a story of loss and then moving forward – literally movingforward – to find new life, even amidst the darkness, by choosing to remain open.

It’s an Easter story…journeying to the tomb of loss in the darkness, and discovering that the story doesn’t end there.

The fact of the matter is, each of us have Good Friday stories of loss and hardship.

In this past year numerous ones of us have experienced deaths of beloved family members, loss of beloved homes, medical challenges of our own or our loved ones.

And the list goes on.

You might find it odd that darkness has been given center stage on this Easter morning when we typically celebrate light and new life.

But if our mindset (and heart-set) is to fling ourselves with abandon into the light after having crossed the Lenten finish line

to arrive in the glorious illumination of Easter…

if that’s the plan, we’ll miss some of the nectar of Easter, which is God beckoning us to wholeness, to balance, to an appreciation that there’s grace even in our darkness.

It’s never made sense to me to think of Easter as a static arrival,  “Jesus died for your sins, the gates of heaven are now swung open, and you are good to go.”

Instead this holiest of holidays calls us to a dynamic celebration of the circle of life, and the cycles of day and night, light and dark.

Caryll Houselander said it beautifully:  Jesus is the Light of the World; the sun which shines upon everything; gives color to everything; heals and gives life, light, and heat; the warmth that goes down deep to the root of the tree and discovers the tiniest seedling in the darkness and feeds it and draws it up into the day. But it is not only as the light of the sun that He wishes to be seen, but also in a dark room, as the tiniest of little candles burning in a darkened space.

Each of us know about those darken spaces.   Some of us are in them to a degree now in our lives, but all of us know of them.

It’s a part of the human experience, part of our creation, internal light and dark.

Because they are a part of our sacred creation, it’s not our calling to figure out how to avoid the dark parts.

Jesus’ life, in a nutshell, was to show us how to find grace as we roll through the ebbs and flows.  Houselander put it even better…

The life of Jesus was simply a template for the entirety of human experience, with theEaster story as a crescendo.

I look forward to hearing some of your comments, but before we do that, let us hear the words of poet David Whyte in his piece entitled Sweet Darkness.

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

 

When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.

 

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.

 

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

 

The dark will be your womb
(not a tomb) tonight.

 

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

 

You must learn one thing:
the world was made to be free in.

 

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

 

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn that

 

 That which does not bring you alive with new life

 

is too small for you.

Tags:

Comments are closed