To my fellow pilgrims in this season of Lent
I love this time of year!
Palms. Passion. Pentecost.
The autumning of the earth as the temperature cools.
Leaves donning their gold and orange colours.
Kevin baking his famous chocolate pudding for dessert.
Darkness deepening, lengthening,
inviting us to slow down and rest.
It is, for many, a time of anticipation – an all-around-us reminder of the turning and re-turning rhythms written into our world by our Creator. Tess Ward, in her prayer book The Celtic Wheel of the Year, offers this profound praise to be offered on rising and resting in these autumn days:
Blessed be you Balance-Holder,
unafraid of the dark from which all newness must begin,
giver of light that draws us on and out into fullness.
(On rising)Help me to balance my need for outgoing
and restoring this day.
(Before resting)With thankfulness for my going out,
restore to me my rest this night.
The story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32) is the focus of our worship in this fourth week of Lent. It is a story of turning and re-turning; of a young man cutting ties with his family to seek adventure and pleasure and independence but finding himself full of loneliness and longing for that same family when times are hard and work is undignified and unrewarding and friends are fickle. Finally, when he is able to overcome his pride, his feet follow his heart which has turned towards the warm memories of home. He returns to his father’s embrace – and his older brother’s angry face.
“It’s not fair!” is the anguished cry of the good and faithful son who had stayed behind to work the land with his father and restore their fortunes for little recognition or reward. And there he stands – outside his home, arms crossed in wounded indignation, denying himself the opportunity to share in the joyous feasting that is taking place just a few feet away. The son who had gone out is now restored. But what about the son who had stayed?
Palms. Passion. Pentecost. Autumn. Turning and re-turning. Dark and Light. Going out and restoring. These are the rhythms written into our world, our life, our church by our Creator, or – as Tess Ward names God in her prayer, Balance-Holder.
I wonder how often we miss out on real joy
~ because we refuse to move and sway to these divine rhythms,
~ because going out seems risky and uncomfortable,
~ because we’re fiercely protecting what is ours,
~ because we want things to stay exactly the same.
May this week bring you opportunities to perceive God in motion and the courage to come to life in big and small ways as the Balance-Holder draws us on and out into the fullness of life together.
Yours, in Christ,