Looking Without Seeing

I Sam 16: 1, 6-7, 10-13; Eph 5: 8-14; John 9: 1-41

Helen Keller, who, of course, was not just blind but also deaf had to overcome the obstacle of thinking that she was somehow deficient because of her limitation in hearing and seeing. Many of us have to do the same thing in different capacities over the course of our lives. She goes onto become a great writer as well as activist and humanitarian, despite what she originally saw as a limitation. In the end, she had commented that there was something even worse than being blind and that was having sight and yet still unable to see. How many times has that function of sight really limited us as well, where we have sight and yet still unable to see.

It’s what Jesus is confronting in today’s gospel with the man born blind who sits on the side of the road, a beggar, as John tells us. Mixed up, though, in this story are all these other conflicts that are important to recognize because they will carry through now until Good Friday, and quite frankly, some even beyond that. Of course, there’s the Pharisees. We’re accustomed to that squabble after hearing it week in and week out. They are the legalists. They see everything through the lens of right and wrong, good and bad, sin and not, and in the end, judge and label everyone according to it. In many ways they end up dehumanizing people and strip them of their dignity because of some standard that they hold that pretty much no one else can match, certainly not a man born blind who is a beggar. Quite honestly, they wouldn’t have the time of day for such a person.

The other squabble is with “the Jews”. We hear that language often in John’s gospel which seems rather odd being that they were all Jewish. Why would they need to be singled out when it encompassed the majority? In today’s language, in these passages they really are the insiders. They view everyone as either insider or outsider and have total disregard for everyone who isn’t part of the in crowd. They grow resentful with Jesus and understand that he’s a Jew like them on some level, but also see him as an outsider and look for every possible way as labeling him as such. They too would have no time for the one they label beggar because he’s not one of them. Ironically, Jesus spends much of his time with them and tries to restore them to their place in the community while restoring their dignity.

There is one other conflict though in this passage and that’s the parents of the blind man. It would seem rather odd, I’d think, for a parent to turn their back on their son, despite his circumstances in life. They deny having anything to do with him regaining his sight because, as John tells us, of fear. Fear holds them back from claiming their own faithfulness to Jesus. As Jews they too would have been with the in crowd and want that sense of belonging. Are they willing to risk it to step out and trust their son in the healing Jesus has brought to his life. It doesn’t seem so.

All that said, the blind man, who happens to be a beggar, has no bearing on the life of the community. He’s an outsider. He’s obviously done something grave that he’s been punished in this way. He’s a nobody and no one wants anything to do with him, except, of course, Jesus. He quickly goes from being a nobody into the one who has the spotlight shining upon him in the middle of all these conflicts that are ensuing. But it takes him time as well. He doesn’t quickly come to an understanding of what has taken place in his life or who this Jesus guy is either. The gospel writer reminds us that he first sees him as a man, then a prophet, then as Lord who has transformed his very life and existence. What he had seen as an obstacle becomes the source of grace in his life.

The same in true for Paul who we hear from in today’s second reading from Ephesians. He uses the image of light and darkness. He had to physically become blind in order to see, knowing his own conversion story. He was a Pharisee as well as an insider and so ingrained in that thinking that he couldn’t see anyone else beyond that limitation. For Paul, if you weren’t an insider, the way he had determined, then there was no place for you. God literally blinds him, even though spiritually he already was, and pushes him to sit in that blindness before he can gain sight and begin to see the other as not someone separate from but one with and not much different than himself. Using his language of today, Paul, and us, are often forced into the darkness of our own lives before God can somehow begin to do something with us. We all have blindspots and darkness as long as we are on this earth, but we also like to avoid them and deny they’re there. The blind man today, along with Jesus, begins to expose those blindspots and yet, they still cannot see as God sees.

It’s where young Samuel is led in today’s first reading. He has no intention on heading to Jesse to anoint a new king. He thought all along that it would be Saul and now fears for his life thinking Saul is going to take his life because of the turn of events. Yet, he goes to Jesse, but once there is still trapped in his own way of seeing. He looks for power, for strength, for someone who can overturn the enemies. This is who he thought should be the next king, but, of course, God has different plans. The writer tells us that Samuel, and for that matter, each of us, see by appearance but God sees the heart. There it is. God knows our story and sees the deepest longings of our hearts.

Our sight has so many limitations. We become blinded by what we see and in turn, label and judge. We see color. We see economic advantages. We see what we don’t have. We see lifestyles that we become envious of. We see people that bring things upon themselves. We see what we wish we had and don’t. We see biases. We see insiders and outsiders. We see, so often the sin of the other and ourselves. It’s hard, as Helen Keller pointed out, to have sight and yet see. The Gospel challenges us to be thrown into the story as the blind man and ask ourselves where we are on our own journey of faith. We all have these conflicts alive within us, the pharisee, the Jew, and even the parental voices that remain, that often hold us back from becoming who we really are in life. When we no longer see them as obstacle but as a source of grace, we’re changed forever. We make the journey of the blind man, of seeing Jesus as man, as prophet, and eventually, as our Lord. We pray for the awareness and acceptance of our own blindspots that prevent us from seeing, not by appearance, but as we heard today, of the heart, as God see us. Like Helen Keller, if we surrender ourselves to the change, transformation, conversation that we are being called to in life, what we have seen simply as limitation opens the door to possibility. I was blind but now I see.

It Means Everything

Acts 10: 34, 37-43; I Cor 5:6-8; Luke 24: 1-12

So what? Why the heck is any of this important anyway? I mean, it doesn’t seem to have much impact on our lives and certainly not on our world. Maybe resurrection is just something of the past that doesn’t mean a hill of beans anyway. But you know what, I think God, Jesus, has the disciples exactly where God wants them. Think about it, the story today picks up where Friday left off. There facing chaos. They feel as if all is lost. There’s darkness, despair, grief. They’re totally disconnected from all their groups and are now in hiding. They’ve hit, as we call it, rock bottom and they have nowhere to turn. God has them right where they need to be, where they can accept death and then embrace the life that comes. But not yet, so it seems.

You know, they will quickly learn that there are serious implications to this event that unfolds in the gospel today as they encounter this empty tomb. It’s unfortunate because we’ve limited resurrection to some other life, this afterlife, that we can hope to anticipate, but for the disciples and us for that matter, it should be impacting us at this very moment. That’s why they become a threat now that Jesus has died and been raised from the dead. The implications are endless, in society, politically, and even religiously. We all know that they saw Jesus as a threat but the threat is about to grow. Paul uses the image of yeast in today’s second reading, which negatively, can grow like wildfire. But so can love and mercy and crazy enough, that becomes the great threat.

You see, God has them where they need to be. For the disciples, they have hit rock bottom and all that they know seems lost. It appears that they have no future. Everything they thought Jesus was supposed to be has been proven wrong. Everything that they wanted Jesus to be never happened. Everything that they thought they were because of their relationship with Jesus has been squashed. It’s all gone. This whole ego structure that they had created, which isn’t real in the first place, has now been diminished to rubble. And so have they. Quite frankly, it would have been much easier for them if the story just ended here. They could return to what they knew, their old way of life. Or could they? Had their hearts been changed. Yeah, at the moment they think it’s all nonsense and crazy and impossible, but very soon things are about to change. The threat of one man, Jesus, is about to grow and expand by leaps and bounds. The resurrection has implications for them and for us because they can no longer be touched by outside authorities, culturally, politically, and religiously, and anyone that thinks they have power in that way isn’t going to like it. It’s not because they fear giving up their lives; it’s because they have found true life and real power. If not, everything else tries to take it’s place and we’re back at the beginning, so what?

Throughout this season we will be hearing from Acts of the Apostles and Peter, Paul, and the rest will try to reconnect the people they encounter back to their roots. That’s what is often lost in faith communities today. You would think that the disciples of all people would have some connection with their own roots in the Exodus, the heart of any Jewish man and woman. But they still don’t see it that way, otherwise they would see such despair at the moment. That story, that root of their faith, should affirm that even in the darkest of times, the promised land is in sight. But they don’t see Jesus yet as the Passover Lamb or the Exodus before their very eyes. When they or we disconnect from our larger story, this great story of mystery, the Paschal Mystery, we begin to make ourselves the center of the world and everything pivots from us. Paul and Peter will remind these communities faithfully to connect with their larger story, the mystery being revealed and lived, otherwise, as Paul warns Corinth today, you’ll fall into the trap of spreading negativity and community will be built around ego and not the deeper mystery of who they are, in relation with Christ crucified, now risen from the dead. They have to get there and don’t even know it because they think what they are holding onto and what defines them is real, and to some degree it is, but it’s not the eternal present now. That’s where the implications come into play for them and us.

It’s no wonder that in the Easter Sunday gospels it’s about the women first pursuing this new reality. Think about it, if they must reach rock bottom and allow all else to die before they can seek the new life, who is it that lives on the bottom of the ladder in the time of Jesus? It’s the women, who’ve followed him from Galilee. They have no status. They have no institutional power. They have no success to pursue. In other words, they have nothing to lose because they’re already there while the men question, doubt, and think it’s utter nonsense. They will need to see with their own eyes this new reality before they can accept death and then embrace the new reality and become the true disciples of Christ crucified, now risen from the dead.

There are implications, or at least there should be, and if there are not, we too must consider our own relationship with the Lord. Unfortunately, we do a much better job of trying to enter into a relationship with the churchy Jesus, which too is often an illusion and something we must let go of, just like the disciples before we get to that place. It’s hard because it’s all we know and it feels like we have everything to lose. We do, but it’s our own and not the true power of the Risen Lord. They are a threat and we can be a threat as people, when we learn to accept death and embrace the power of the Risen Lord already given to us, right now. Right now! All of us! It’s what institutions fear the most because now the disciples have nothing to lose. The death and resurrection of Jesus changes everything. Everything. The power of love and mercy changes everything and spreads quickly.

Throughout these fifty days of Easter we’re invited to go deeper into this mystery that is are larger story. It’s what binds all of us, as we will soon do by renewing our baptismal promises. It’s not about membership. Rather, that even, these events, are about changing our lives and binding us in a way that is beyond our imagination, into the deepest recesses of our being, where we enter into this sustaining love affair with Christ crucified, now risen from the dead. I can finally come to a place where I realize and accept that it’s not merely a historical event that I come here to remember, but rather, the lived reality and the lived mystery of my life. There are real implications to saying we believe. It’s not what the disciples eventually do in Acts; it’s about who they are. They have let the scales of death and of their own ego, fall from their eyes and allow a new recreated order through the great gift and now lifelong relationship, with Christ crucified, now risen from the dead. So what? Well, because it changes everything, even our hearts and souls and the very way we live our lives.

No Going Back

Ezekiel 2: 2-5; IICor 12: 7-10; Mark 6: 1-6

There’s one thing that the prophets quickly learn, as Jesus does in today’s gospel, you pretty much cannot return home. Most of us can understand it on some level like when we leave home and start to break away, it’s hard to return. It’s hard for others to see us beyond the lens of who we were in their image and who we have become. Jesus meets immediate resistance when he returns, questioning his authority and the wisdom he shares. Like any of the prophets, home has changed for them. Home is no longer defined by the outside relationships of family and friends, but is rather found within. It’s that home that gives the authority and wisdom to say and do has they do to the people.

But it doesn’t come without a fight. That is the consistent theme of the call of the prophets of the Hebrew Scripture. From Ezekiel whom we hear from today to Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the rest we hear from throughout the year, there is this ensuing tension with God and the call that is being given. It gets to the point where they almost can’t not do it because it becomes agonizing for them until they can finally surrender to that voice. Like any of us, there is always that desire to conform, go along with the crowd, fit it, be accepted, but to be authentic and live out that call, Ezekiel must move beyond that and grow to accept the call that is being given in going out to Israel. However, despite their hardened hearts and Ezekiel knowing the difficult task that is being placed within and on him, he’s freed up by God reminding him that whether they heed or resist, a prophet has arisen. Their acceptance or denial of his call has no bearing on the fact that he’s being called in this way, to a new way of life and to be this prophetic voice to the people. It’s not that he’s being called to be the doomsday guy or to tell them how to live their lives, but given the gift of the spirit, he sees and hears on a different level. He becomes the voice and eyes of a God who is always present, even in the hardness of their hearts and the messiness of their lives. This is what Ezekiel sees and hears and can’t not be that voice to the people.

Jesus, as I said meets that resistance when he finds that home within himself, just as Ezekiel does. He returns to his native place where you’d think they’d welcome him with open arms and yet is quite the opposite. What do they see? They see a carpenter. They see the son of Mary. They see what and who he used to be, from their own lens, and yet can’t see him for who and what he is now. Even Jesus sees he’s going to get nowhere here in his native place. Their own hardness of heart prevents them from seeing the face of God in their midst. They are probably the ones that needed the miracles the most; yet, their prevented from seeing and experiencing the gift. They question his wisdom and his words. Of course, finding that home within leads us where we don’t want to go, in the face of persecution and hardship, suffering and to the cross. It’s what leads to his impending death on the cross. He too can’t not do what he’s been called to and to be that prophetic voice. But we are all called to that life of mature faith. When we come to this baptismal font we are all anointed priest, prophet, and king. We are all called on this journey in where we too are no longer defined by our exterior relationship and circumstances, our past, but rather find that voice within. That’s how we become the person God has created us to be and to be God’s gift to the world, His instrument.

Paul, too, understands the challenge of that call. He calls it a “thorn in the flesh.” It’s something that is always there. He questions along the way as Ezekiel and the other prophets do. When standing in the face of pain and suffering will I be able to be true to that voice, even if it means confronting the thorn in the flesh in my own life, suffering at the hands of others who can’t accept this call that has been given? It’s not easy being that voice, which is why so many choose otherwise and would rather that voice be silenced within rather than to be true to it, to be authentic. In the end, though, we lose what is most important to us when we do. Paul, like many others, are not willing to give that up once it’s found and will face martyrdom if that’s what it takes to be true to the home that has been found within.

There are many that claim to be prophets in our world. There are many that think they are great defenders of what we believe. Yet, so often it’s empty words if it’s not grounded in something and someone deeper within ourselves. When we continue to try to please others or want acceptance more than authenticity, we will continue to surrender our greatest and most treasured gift, our authentic voice within. We all have one, but like the great prophets that have gone before us, when we settle for something less, God will continue to wrestle as long as we need to, but in the midst of our own suffering that we continuously bring upon ourselves, God’s presence will arise and win out; God always does. We pray that we may find that voice within and remain true to that voice, our own home. It may lead to rejection and other suffering, but we will remain true to ourselves and the true home within will become the home of the many who go without in our world.

An Encounter With Love

John 3: 14-21

Nicodemus is one of the more intriguing characters we encounter in John’s Gospel, partially because very little is known about him other than his encounters with the Lord, beginning with this one today. He will appear again in a few chapters when he begins to confront his own darkness in the light of day and then reappear at the end of Jesus’ life in preparing the body for burial in the new tomb. But like the other conversion stories we know of this gospel, such as the Woman at the Well, the Man Born Blind, and the Raising of Lazarus, it still contains many of John’s themes of light and darkness, seeing and not seeing, and a gradual deepening of faith through an encounter with the Lord.

Now the one thing we do know of Nicodemus is that he’s a Pharisee and that this first encounter happens in the dead of night, complete darkness, both of which are important in understanding his conversion in John’s Gospel. Now we all know John is often criticized for what some would call lofty theology but at least when it comes to these conversion stories, he really writes more from a mystical union within himself, that’s why John and Jesus are often misunderstood, but conversion nonetheless. So Nicodemus comes in the dark of the night so that he isn’t seen in this encounter with the Lord by anyone, especially the Pharisees whom he is a part of; yet, he goes. There’s obviously something missing in his life that is pushing for this encounter, and in the darkness of the night he really begins to confront his own darkness, but not in the sense that we often associate it with sin and suffering. What Nicodemus begins to confront is the darkness of the persona he’s been trying to live up to. Again, in the literal sense that’s why he does this in the dark of night as to not be seen. He still is driven and identifies himself with the Pharisee. He still seeks acceptance and can fall into that trap, yet, at the same time, feels movement within and beyond that persona.

Jump ahead a few chapters when we encounter him again. At that point it is in the light of day. He begins to live from a different place within and is beginning to see the cracks in the persona that he has created. Remember, we’re no different. We create them for ourselves as well to protect ourselves from vulnerability often. We try to live up to the persona of the priest, of a doctor, lawyer, even mother or father or so on where our entire identity gets wrapped up in that role that we begin to lose sight of who we really are. This is where we’re encountering Nicodemus throughout the Gospel. It will only be near the end when he can finally begin to let that go, know it’s there, and yet choose to live from a different place and allowing Love to lead rather than the persona. It’s hard work but it’s the work of conversion that we speak of during the season of Lent, a conversion in its truest sense, in a biblical sense.

But I do believe that his story is much like ours. So often we encounter these characters and here their stories and it seems as if everything changes dramatically and quickly. But that’s typically not my experience and I’m sure not yours either. Conversion for us tends to be slow and steady as it is for Nicodemus. Gradually the darkness begins to be revealed in the light. Yet, John tells us that we prefer the darkness and that’s true. We know the darkness of the world and persona that we create for ourselves and as we grow it can often do more harm that good to us and beyond, it holds us back from living out of that Love and often leads to even greater darkness, leaving us questioning, fearful, and quite anxious about life when we find ourselves trying to be something we are not, and for that matter, someone we are not, at least not in the fullest.

As we continue these now final weeks of the Lenten season, we pray for a deeper awareness of our own darkness and the persona’s we identify ourselves with. Although it may be what we do at times, it’s not our true identity in Christ just as it wasn’t for Nicodemus. Imagine the love and the place in which Nicodemus lived within and from in the end in the care for the body of Jesus as it was prepared for his resting place. We are invited into that same encounter with the Crucified and Risen Lord, gradually and often, to confront and identify that darkness in our own lives, and like Nicodemus, the more that divine indwelling shines through and leads the way in our lives, the more we will become love, live in love, be led by love, often where we do not want to go, and to manifest that love into the world.

The Greatest of These

Exodus 22: 20-26; Matthew 22: 34-40

Which commandment in the law is the greatest? After weeks of contention between Jesus and the authorities, we finally settle down this weekend with a rather easy question posed by the Sadducees as to which law is the greatest. Love God and neighbor as yourself. Plain and simple…yet, I dare say, so often in our lives these two responses are read somewhat independent of one another rather than recognizing them in mutuality with one another. We shouldn’t dare utter the words of loving God if we hold contempt, hatred or judgment toward anyone; yes, anyone.

Rather ironic that this reading would come up on the weekend I returned from the Holy Land. One of our first experiences in Israel was fighting going on between the Muslims and Jews. I still have a hard time understanding how after all these years there could still be so much fighting over such a small piece of land! Although we weren’t in any danger, we found ourselves looking on from the Garden of Gethsemane, hearing the yelling and tear gas being shot. A simple commandment, so it seems, to love God and neighbor, not always a living reality in the holy land or in our own lives as well.

The first reading takes us back a few centuries and speaks of the people as being orphans and aliens and how God hears their cry when they are wronged. The Lord makes the point that the Israelites should know better than to allow hatred and contempt and judgment to grow and linger in their hearts because it is also their story and know what it’s like to be alienated and distanced. They know what it is like to be driven out into the desert, searching their way and trying to find the gift of the Promised Land, which seems so far from their reality. Yet, they are allowing it to grow in their hearts. The greatest commandment is on the brink of violation and they will once again find themselves wandering in their own darkness.

If we are honest with ourselves and can see the big picture on life, we are all aliens and orphans, so often lost and finding our way back to God. We become bogged down, so often, by the things of this world thinking they are so important and the end of the world if things don’t go our way, but everything of this world shall pass because we are aliens and orphans living our way to oneness with God for all eternity into the new Jerusalem, for all that will remain is faith, hope, and love and the greatest of these is love…love of God and neighbor.

Yet, the fighting continues beyond and within. We can’t see beyond differences. We can’t accept that we don’t hold the measuring stick for the rest of humanity. We get hung up on little things that bruise our ego and in the larger scheme of things, don’t really matter. We fear anything that is different than what we know. We allow contempt and hatred and judgment to grow within leading us out to the desert of our own lives, seeking a way back, seeking a love that deep down we once knew and have slowly forgotten. Yet, all I can do is work at it, push through the challenges, grow and so often painfully, and be faithful to loving God and neighbor. I certainly don’t always get it right and I certainly don’t do it like God does for me or you, but I am aware that they go hand-in-hand and is a mutual relationship of loving God and neighbor as myself.

Yes, simple words to recite but we know not as easy to live. All we can do is to pray for the grace to let go of what binds and holds us back from accepting that love that is already there for me and you and strive to live it faithfully day in and day out for faith, hope, and love shall remain, and truly, the greatest of these is love.

Serenity Now

Image

 

Isaiah 49: 14-15; Matthew 6: 24-34

“Accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”  Most are familiar with those words of the Serenity Prayer that is used by many people, especially those who are part of an anonymous group.  I believe it’s also the prayer of Mary and Jesus though as well, this surrendering their lives into the hands of God who will somehow see us through some of the most difficult challenges of our lives.  Accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; wisdom to know the difference.

Change is hard for all of us, but these are great readings for us to reflect upon as we begin these few days of transition into Lent because they move us to make this prayer, and certainly the prayer of Jesus and Mary, our prayer.  Sometimes the hardest thing for us to admit that there are things about us that we cannot change.  It doesn’t mean that we stop trying, but ultimately, it’s about trusting God and placing into God’s hands, not to be fixed, but about giving up control and seeking healing and reconciliation, transformation in our own lives.

The readings this weekend move us to that direction.  Jesus speaks of this anxiety that the disciples may face or experience, but he continues his message of the essence of Christianity.  We’re going to worry about things; it’s our human nature, especially about the basic necessities of life.  But he goes further than that.  He speaks of a divided heart, one trying to serve two masters.  Now as much as that statement is attributed to God and money, I do know that money is not what causes anxiety in everyone’s life.  There is so much that can become the master of our lives and divide our hearts, often controlled by that fear and anxiety and the thinking that somehow we have to do it all on our own and no one will understand what it is we’re going through.  We become divided when we, as is often the case, put ourselves in place of God.

Isaiah tells us, today, though, about a God likened to that of Jesus.  He speaks of a God to the people who will go to the ends of the earth to meet us wherever we are and in whatever may be consuming our lives right now.  If we are suffering with cancer, God wants to meet us there and in all the anxiety that it causes us.  If we are grieving, God wants to meet us there and in all the pain that it brings into our lives.  If we are struggling with a broken heart, God wants to meet us there.  It is precisely in the place where we hurt the most right now that God wants to meet us so that we don’t do it alone and we don’t become consumed by the fear and anxiety that in turn takes hold of our lives.  Our God loves us so much that he’s willing to go there with us.  We think we have to meet God halfway, but even that’s not true.  All we need to do is be open to God’s love and mercy and he will come all the way.  Heck, Isaiah even says that even if a mother could possibly forget a child and the love that holds deep in that child, God loves us even more than that.  Just imagine this Eucharist and this Word going right to that place of pain, beginning the process of healing of the hurt.

As we transition into the Lenten season, there is much we could change in our own lives, and yet, even things we need to learn to accept, especially that we cannot change other people.  As a matter of fact, if you’re thinking everyone else must change in your life, there’s a good chance it’s you that has to change!  We pray for that acceptance.  We pray for the courage to change what we can.  Most importantly, we pray for the wisdom not only to know the difference, but to put it all into God’s hands.  We can’t always handle it, and when we do, we feel that fear and anxiety, but God sure can and he wants to meet us in that place today!  Acceptance for the things we cannot change; courage to change the things we can; wisdom to know the difference.  These are great readings to lead us into Lent and it is a great prayer to take us where God wants to go.

Winter’s Tight Fist

Image

It’s been hard to take at times, the tight fist of winter.  It seems like with every reprieve that comes, a taste of spring, winter comes with greater force and vengeance.  Yet, even with the sun’s angle growing in the sky and days getting longer, there’s something comforting about winter’s solace.  There’s something about hunkering down and hibernating in our own way that, as much as we want it to end, we still hang onto it.  We complain about it’s wrath.  We question why it continues.  We wonder if we could ever get out of bed in the morning, in all his darkness, winter hangs tight.  Even in anticipation of light and life, with melting snow and the passing of days, we hold back from accepting winter as a part of life’s cycle, as a part of God’s plan for creation to wait with patience for life, not on our terms or in our time, but not until spring is ready, not until winter tries to give his last laugh and his own gasp for life.

So true of our own spiritual life and the ongoing tension of life and death, of winter and the spring of our lives, our own spring awakening.  We too get comfortable with the dark, the cold, the death, and as much as we say we fear death, our lives often say that what we fear more is not death but life.  Like winter’s tight fist, we tighten up and hold onto all that holds back life.  We hold onto all that keeps spring from happening.  Yet, God is patient with it all and buries the roots deeper for life so that when we finally accept the winter of our own lives and spring begins to take shape, it will bear greater fruit.

Maybe we haven’t been slowed enough by winter?  Maybe we keep fighting it?  What we fight is so often our denial of the winter of life, wanting the forever spring where life always abounds; yet, there is great value in winter, not only for nature and her course, but for the mystery that we call life.  Without death, we remain tight fisted.  Without death we want control.  Without winter we try to direct our own path toward salvation, life, resurrection.  Without death there isn’t much life; the two go hand-in-hand.  Without winter, spring loses its pop.

In these late winter days when we have grown weary of all that winter brings, we can begin to feel the tug within for change, for life.  We can begin to feel the pains of giving birth to life, to buds breaking forth.  In these late winter days we are called to accept winter as part of the mystery we live, not as our enemy or something to avoid and leave, but rather an invitation to allow the roots to go deep, to be buried in the fertile soil that God has been preparing these weeks and months.  At that moment of surrender and that moment of acceptance spring, with all its glory will erupt within and around our midst, regardless of what the calendar may read, and most certainly, regardless of what it looks like and feels like outside our door.