Seasons

We headed out for the holiday weekend to enjoy a few days of R&R at the beach before the grind of the school year schedule began.  I could not wait to plant myself and do NOTHING for a couple of days.   And other than the basic stuff like cooking, cleaning and laundry, that is exactly what I did for the first whole day!  I sat on the beach and napped and did nothing while the kids played.  By the second day, I was feeling a little restless.  All the reading I wanted to do suddenly held little interest.  The quiet time alone with the Lord that I had CRAVED felt fulfilled to a large degree.  The household chores that I planned to shortcut as much as possible started to feel more necessary and even urgent.  I was feeling anxious to get up and get some exercise.

I sensed in my being that my time for rest was done. (unbelievably, that only took one day!)

Here in the Northeast the change of season is upon us.  You can smell it and feel it in the air.  The nights are cooler and the greenery is perking up.  The kids are back to school and football has begun.  It’s a time of change when nature and culture seem to be in harmony.

After Christmas we will celebrate the New Year and many will make New Year’s resolutions to go along with the internal sense of change and renewal.  We will be done with one year and look forward to a fresh new start, a new season, in the next year.

In March next year, Christians will celebrate the most important day in our liturgical calendar, the Resurrection of Christ.  That season will be marked by signs, both internally and in nature, of new life.  A new season will be upon us once again.

As much as we are creatures of habit and traditions, we are also creatures meant for seasons.  Life is chock full of “deaths and resurrections” indicating that God never intended for us to be stagnant.

 Eccl 3:1-9 “There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens. A time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot the plant. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.  A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them; a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces. A time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away.  A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to be silent and a time to speak. A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.” 

And indeed He sent us his Holy Spirit to keep us moving!  We weren’t created for the mediocrity of settling for the status quo of this life.  Very often we ride along happily on cruise control and continuously strive for the ordered and pleasurable and self gratifying course. The great news is that according to God’s plans we are destined for that for all of Eternity.  The goal is that we will live in blissful harmony forever and all restlessness and yearning will be fulfilled.  It will be permanent Resurrection for all who know and Love God, but first we must navigate this beautiful Life in all it’s twists and turns, ups and downs, summers, winters, falls and springs.

As I write this there is a storm brewing outside, the wind is howling and the air is charged with a sense of ‘change’.  A big storm is coming and we just raced around to pick up the toys in the yard and bring in cushions and harvest what’s ready in the garden.  In a few minutes or a few hours it will subside as all our storms in life and at some point the sun will shine again.   Insert here a rousing rendition of Annie’s “The sun will come out tomorrow”.  Or not.  But you get the idea, “This too shall pass”.

And the question is, whether it’s a hill or a valley, how will you emerge?  The Spirit is working and moving through the storms and in the spring-times of renewal in our hearts and in our lives.  Our seasons serve as reminders or sometimes the catalyst for the change that allows us to live more fully in God’s will.

We rejoice when it’s the time for rejoicing and we mourn when it’s time for mourning, but in every time we are called to the embrace of God’s most holy desires for us.  He will work all for our good and wants us to emerge, again and again, as new creations.

And really what fun would it be if it were always the same season?  What fun would it be if we were always smoothly in control and in charge and knew exactly what we were in for?

There will be a time for that though.  It will be glorious.  It will be everlasting.

English: Resurrection of Christ

English: Resurrection of Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Fruit

Pullano Pumpkin Patch July 2012

More Reflections from the Garden

I made space in my garden this year for a pumpkin patch.  I thought it would be fun for the kids to pick pumpkins from our very own garden in the fall. My one attempt at a pumpkin in last year’s garden didn’t turn out so well so this year I went all out and dedicated an entire “patch”; smart thinking when you know exactly what went wrong and how to fix it….

At any rate, I followed the directions on the seed packet, made lots of little mounds and planted the seeds.  In no time I had little seedlings that gradually grew to resemble actual pumpkin plants. As they grew I vaguely noticed there were some variations in their appearance (I actually think one of the plants may be a watermelon?)  but one mound in particular had me wondering.  The leaf didn’t quite resemble any of the others.  Still it was green and healthy and growing very similarly to all the other plants so I certainly didn’t want to risk yanking out a perfectly good fruit plant.  I left it to grow along with the others knowing it would be exposed for it’s true identity sooner or later.  Sure enough all the plants began to sprawl and flower and produce tiny little baby pumpkins, (or watermelon) except that one.  The writing was on the wall for the imposter.  It was time for the now giant weed to take it’s leave.

Mt 7:16-20 “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles?  Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. “

Jesus is speaking here of false prophets and it’s certainly a relevant warning today in the face of all who are rising up on a global scale to mislead Christ’s church.  So many Catholics and Christians alike have a shallow faith, like the seed that fell on rocky ground and was scorched by the heat because it had no roots, they are easily misled and fall into the trap of false thinking based on seemingly good and noble ideas.  Mainstream society has fallen victim to these false prophets for generations, but particularly in recent decades as is evidenced by the “bad fruits” rampant in our world today.  When you consider the state of marriage and the family and the value, or lack thereof, that we place on life at all stages, it becomes obvious that for all of our ‘do-gooding’ today we simply are not better off.

In the name of acceptance and political correctness and standing up for rights, we have managed to stand for nothing and certainly not for the love and justice that Jesus preached.  He warned us over 2000 years ago and, against all odds, that warning is in black and white today for the world to read.

Later in Matthew’s gospel Jesus warns, “Many false prophets will arise and deceive many; and because of the increase of evildoing, the love of many will grow cold.” (Mt. 24:11-12)

An example in the United States is the legality of abortion.  Our laws and government promote a pregnant woman’s right to choose, in the name of freedom, but the fruit of that ‘right’ is millions of murdered babies and millions of women facing grief, depression, anxiety and a long list of post-abortion syndrome side effects.  I would venture to guess that the tentacles of pain and suffering are far more widespread than meets the eye.  It would seem the love of a great many has indeed grown cold and the depth of deception is staggering.  A bad tree cannot bear good fruit.  Abortion is a bad tree and it bears horrific fruit.  It seems so simple and yet it is a subject of so much controversy and division and even hate.

On a smaller scale in our own lives and communities we can probably recognize a few false prophets. People who are deceived and misguided and misled and speak in the name of Christ.  Jesus says beware of these wolves in sheep’s clothing!  As followers of Christ, every single one of us bears false witness to God’s teaching when we don’t follow his laws of life and love.  When we claim to be Christians, yet our lives don’t set the example of a Christian, we are being false prophets.  If we are not bearing good fruit in our lives we are exactly what Jesus was warning against in His message.

St Michael slaying a dragon

St Michael slaying a dragon (Photo credit: tortipede)

And it wasn’t a vague notion he laid out but rather a hard and direct truth.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit WILL BE cut down and thrown into the fire.

The imposter pumpkin was bound to be exposed for it’s true nature and had I left it in my patch it would have taken valuable water and nutrient away from the real fruit bearing plants.  There was no choice but to dig it out.

Of course we will all fall and we will all sin but holiness should always be the goal.  As christians, that is, as a people who Love God’s will more than our own we are called to be beacons of light and hope in an ever darkening world.  We need to have an awareness that we bring Christ’s light, His message and His Love to all who are watching.

Or not.

God, we pray you would open our eyes to all the ways we do or don’t live the Gospel in our lives and give us the grace to live your Holy will in all ways. Amen