It’s Holy Week. One of the busiest times of year for pastors (and chaplains), and one where I so desperately need some strength and rejuvenation!
I was reminded by a Wise Woman to be intentional in my Holy Week activities, busy as I am. I was exhorted to keep the space around my heart and my mind refreshed and clear.
So this afternoon, with laundry piled high (isn’t it always?) and chores to do, I took her advice.
I sat in the chilly spring air, and stared at blue sky, and puffy clouds, and noticed the maple buds swelling.
I watched the chickadees and cardinals go to the feeders, flitting back and forth to the trees and bushes. I listened to a woodpecker drumming on the dead apple tree branch. And I heard the sound of branches creaking in the light breeze.
I breathed deeply. Chores can wait. Books will gather dust. Essays and charting and blog posts even will get done… or not.
What I really needed to do was be IN Creation. To jettison the expectations I put on myself, and to remember… to pray… to reflect on this Lenten journey, soon to be ending with the celebration on Easter morning.
I sat on a bench in the sun, drinking it all in. I walked the labyrinth in the back yard and realized it needed attention. It was time to clean away the deadfall of branches and rake away the leaves. To stop and look around me and see the change coming and relish it. To see the traces of winter, the places where the ground is still hard and cold, and also the places where the grass has begun to grow.
I sense the stirring. I know that the songs of the Resurrection are coming. But first, I wait and walk and wait some more.
I noted this old fencerow on our property. It is part of an old orchard road where, generations ago, the apple trees were planted and the fence strung up to prevent livestock from getting in the orchard. It reminded me that the echoes of generations past gave me life and purpose and fire to keep going, keep growing.
This is the work of the Spirit in my life. She leads, suggests but never presses. She points out the fenceposts and reminds me of the paths of the faithful. She highlights obstacles and suggests a way around it. She breathes life into my tired, cold, wintering-over heart.
And I realize, with a kind of dull and slow awakening, that even in the days where I felt it was pointless, and basically “phoned it in” at work and home, God was working. Through me. In me. In spite of me. From the pile of dead branches to the leaves that blew in across the fence, God has been and always will be at work, behind the scenes, underground, in the coldest, driest, hottest or iciest days.
Joan Chittiister wrote:
“Everywhere I looked, hope existed – but only as some kind of green shoot in the midst of struggle. It was a theological concept, not a spiritual practice. Hope, I began to realize, was not a state of life. It was at best a gift of life.”
Wherever I go, in my next steps and moments, I walk with a little more confidence and faith in the God who walks with me.
In the struggle, there is peace. And there is surely growth.
Walking towards the Resurrection this week – may you experience the encouraging words of the Spirit.