by Chris Koellhoffer, IHM March 28, 2021
Depending on which hemisphere we call home, we may, at this time of year, already be noticing the first stirrings. The force in the tulip bulb breaking through barely thawed ground. The fragile bud morphing into spring green. The brave crocus poking its head up in hopeful blossoming. The fresh nest growing stick by stick and straw by straw to welcome new life.
Perhaps we can feel those stirrings in ourselves as well. The divine greening power calling us, beckoning us to move forward and embrace the mystery of growth and of transformation. It’s a process that’s exciting and mysterious and scary, all at once, especially for those of us who want to know.
What might this life force be inviting us into? What deep, inner soul work is required to set in motion a more vital and passionate living? What reserves of wisdom and courage must be mined if we’re to step into the unknowingness of a new moment?
Two years ago, when I was at the beginning of a recovery whose outcome was uncertain, I remember how my question of “When will I be able to walk again?” was met by kind but evasive answers from my healthcare professionals. Their responses alerted my intuition that no one could even attempt to predict my future, that perhaps there were no answers–or at least none that would comfort me.
On my worst day in the darkness of that unknowing, I broke down. My physical therapist, one of those wise beings who know exactly when to push and when to hold back, reminded me as I wept that therapy is exhausting work, that it challenges us to profound compassion for our bodies and gentleness for our spirits. And then she added, “But the life force is very strong in you.”
Spring began in that moment when someone saw in me what I was incapable of seeing in myself. My therapist’s encouragement ushered in a renewed hopefulness and a fresh determination to engage with my whole heart in the grueling and mysterious work of healing and then to live with gracious acceptance of what could not be healed.
Perhaps the poet, Pablo Neruda, had this in mind when he observed, “You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot keep Spring from coming.” Irrepressible. Unstoppable. Resilient. Tenacious.
Might those same descriptive adjectives be equally true of resurrection? As we wait with the Holy One in the silent entombment of Holy Saturday, we wait in the presence of Mystery. We wait with a world that is buried by despair, by hopes deferred, by a longing to rise. We wait with the inexplicable truth that the life force present in Jesus is also strong in us. Strong even when and perhaps especially when we’re buried under the weight of burdens and worries. Strong even when our sometimes limited vision blocks the faintest glimmer of hope from our horizon. The life force of Jesus, the ever-present grace of the Holy One, remains with us and in us. May the promise of his risen life invite us into this “Prayer for All Things Rising” by Jan Richardson:
“For all things rising
out of the hiddenness of shadows
out of the weight of despair
out of the brokenness of pain
out of the constrictions of compliance
out of the rigidity of stereotypes
out of the prison of prejudice;
for all things rising
into life, into hope
into healing, into power
into freedom, into justice;
we pray, O God,
for all things rising.”
Sit in stillness with the Holy One.
If possible, surround yourself with images or sounds of new life—in birdsong, in blossoming, in any signs of the greening power of God.
What might be longing to blossom in you?
Hold in tenderness and prayer all things yearning and struggling to rise today.
Featured image: Ali G. Rashidi, Unsplash
Beginning April 1, look for my guest blog for the Triduum on A Nun’s Life, https://anunslife.org. Special thanks to Sister Julie Myers, OSF for the invitation to contribute a post and for her enthusiastic, professional shepherding of this piece from start to posting.
Wishing you all the graces of Holy Week and the new life of Easter, and wishing our Jewish sisters and brothers the blessings of Passover. Thank you for all the ways you inspire my own life and the lives of so many, for your words of encouragement, and for your faithful following of Mining the Now. May you know the fullness of new life and the greening power of the Holy One this season.
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