by Chris Koellhoffer, IHM May 9, 2021
Listen! The chant of a hundred jonquils opening their orange centers to sun and rain. The song of a peony heavy with ants intent on sipping nectar from the base of its green sepals. The lyric of abundance that surrounds us in spring whenever she makes her debut. Nature insists: blossoming is possible.
This surge of springtime life that St. Hildegard of Bingen calls viriditas is the greening power of God pulsing through every cell. That same movement, from single cell to bud to full flowering, is also taking place in us, with one significant difference. We have the choice to refuse growth and avoid change, or to do deep, inner soul work and cooperate with grace.
If we’ve ever kept close watch on a bud, we know that the journey from infant bud to mature flower is one very slow movement. Some mornings seem to be frozen in time. Some afternoons appear to be nothing but pause or standstill. Some days we may observe no growth whatsoever and then, if we turn our back for just a moment, there it is–the splendor of opening petals.
In the natural world, so many elements can stunt growth or prevent blossoming: an unseasonal frost, a lasting drought, the harshness of brutal hail or excessive heat. In the life of the spirit, some elements—such as a dearth of encouragement, a constant barrage of criticism, experiences of exclusion or attitudes of unwelcome–effect a similar outcome.
Spring invites us to cultivate a particular tenderness for those who long for full flowering but who live in fear or despair that blossoming might forever elude them–all those whose lives are silenced or ignored, who are pressed down by the weight of social sins like racism, exploitation, oppression. May our intention to live as the presence of love offer an optimal convergence of sun and soil and warmth and nourishment for the life of the world. May the fragile buds in us blossom into the abundant life that is the Holy One’s dream for everyone.
That is our prayer and, I suspect, a current underneath Maya Spector’s delightful poem, “Jailbreak Time”:
It’s time to break out—
Time to punch our way out of
the dark winter prison.
Lilacs are doing it
in sudden explosions of soft purple,
and the jasmine vines,
and ranunculus, too.
There is no jailer powerful enough
to hold Spring contained.
Let that be a lesson.
Stop holding back the blossoming!
Quit shutting eyes and gritting teeth,
curling fingers into fists, hunching shoulders.
Lose your determination to remain unchanged.
All the forces of nature
want you to open,
Their gentle nudge carries behind it
the force of a flash flood.
Why make a cell your home
when the door is unlocked
and the garden is waiting for you?
Sit in stillness with the Holy One,
or, if you prefer, go outdoors and pay attention to the Holy One present in viriditas,
the greening power of the Divine.
Notice what hopes and dreams are stirring within you or within creation around you.
Might anything be holding back the blossoming?
What might be needed for “jailbreak time” to happen?
Ask the Holy One to help you move closer to full flowering.
Featured image: Marina Lakotka, Unsplash
For the next few days, I’ll be taking some time away for my own blossoming. Grateful!
Please hold in your prayer all who will be part of a Directed Retreat Weekend at the Jesuit Center for Spiritual Growth in Wernersville, PA, May 23-25. I’ll be a guest director for the weekend. Thank you.
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