In search of more19 Oct 2022
God’s love is always there – through the changing seasons, good times and bad.
Goodness, has there ever been such a cold winter as the last? Or a more welcome spring? Normally I love the changing seasons, watching for the small signs of the year’s turning, the shifts of light and temperature that herald the new season’s coming.
I love the gifts each season brings. Afternoon tea by the fire, a pile of unread books, the garden quiet and still are all blessings of winter. And then the first blossoms on the fruit trees, the brightness of the morning lights, the little green stubs of the new bulbs popping through the mulch of old leaves are there to delight and surprise the walker.
Small whiffs of sweetness advertise the first blossoms on the daphne, and the surprisingly green leaves of the broad beans and snow peas are bringing the frozen veggie patch back to life.
Covid, flu and grumpiness have stumped their gloomy way through the town these last months. If one must go out it’s been hard to find a smile. Even the dog-walkers look dogged! All my neighbours have either fled to the warm north or gone into hibernation.
This morning as I sat with the first coffee of the morning gazing quietly at the sunrise, it seemed to me that one of the sitting-room windows framed the glory of a rose and gold sunrise. And the other, the still, pearly light of early frost above the rooftops.
Spring is like that. As each day passes, the light will become stronger, the sun will rise earlier and set later, and the winds will (hopefully) become milder.
I will take my coffee cup outside, and inspect the progress of the seasons, and rejoice.
BEGINNINGS AND ENDINGS
As we adjust to a world much less predictable than we assumed, we realise that we are fragile and mortal creatures. We, like the birds that fly overhead, like the seasons that pass and come again, have beginnings and endings, existing in time and space. Here and gone.
When the 7th century Viking King Edwin of Northumbria was considering whether to convert from their Norse beliefs to Christianity, he and his people considered what the missionary monks from Rome preached about the Christian Triune Creator-God, and their own gods. The decision needed deep wisdom.
Two pathways that remain in the human heart and soul for each of us. It was the counsel of his own wise advisers that they followed.
‘The present life of man upon earth, O King,
seems to me in comparison with that time which
is unknown to us like the swift flight of a sparrow
through mead-hall where you sit at supper in
winter, with your Ealdormen and thanes, while
the fire blazes in the midst and the hall is
warmed, but the wintry storms of rain or snow
are raging abroad. The sparrow, flying in at one
door and immediately out at another, whilst he is
within, is safe from the wintry tempest, but after a
short space of fair weather, he immediately
vanishes out of your sight, passing from winter to
winter again. So this life of man appears for a
little while, but of what is to follow or what went before
we know nothing at all.
‘If, therefore, this new doctrine tells us something more certain,
it seems justly to be followed in our kingdom.’ – Saint Bede the Venerable
In a world in which science and technology have an answer to every problem, or appear to be ‘on the edge of a breakthrough’, it’s easy to be satisfied with a fix-it solution. And indeed, we are fortunate to live in our age, in which even pandemics can be studied and addressed, offering hope, healing and dignity. That’s a good enough answer, we conclude.
But something deep in the hearts of Edwin, his warriors and counsellors, the missionaries with ‘the words of eternal life’, the old ones and young ones, wanted more. They were looking for the deep wisdom that lies beneath the foundation of our being, the context in which we move and have our being.
And for me that answer is love. Before God created the world, he did what he has always done and will do: he loved. After all, God is love. Everything God does or does not do has to do with love.
This article first appeared in the Spring 2022 edition of Madonna magazine – a quarterly magazine devoted to spirituality in daily life. For more information and to subscribe, see madonnamagazine.com.au/article/subscriptions.