The Journey to Resurrection
(Lent, Holy Week and Easter in a Monastery) Day 4 Birth
“God is constantly born in us” Meister Eckhart
In Mexico where I live, the four Seasons are hard to distinguish. Here in middle Europe (Germany) every Season is felt and experienced and lived to its fullest. The weather in Bavaria is cold to Mexico’s standards right now. We have had cold spring rains nearly daily now. This morning after Laudes (6 am) I mentioned to one of the Monks how cold it was. He said something in return about being used to it. Amidst the cold and rain is definitely new birth.
Everywhere one looks there are new buds on trees, daffodils and tulips springing out of the ground and the farmland is all plowed up and ready to be planted for the next growing season. New life is everywhere!
Meister Eckhart writes, “God’s most noble desire is to create. God is not satisfied until he engenders his Son in us”.
I have two simple memories about Birth or New Birth. One being when I hid some onions once in the pantry around this time of the year. To my surprise after a weeks time the Onions were sprouting even though they were kept away in a dark place. Another is a trip I made Holy Week to the deep recesses of Vera Cruz in Mexico also during Holy Week. I saw big fence posts along the way during the trip to the tropics. The fence poles were wooden, chopped from dead wood. But to my surprise, as I looked closer at the fence posts, all of them were sprouting new life and branches. Indeed as St. Ambrose write, “All things must rise”.
New Life, New Birth is in us all whether we recognize it or not. There is a great contrast right now between the fields and landscape and the Monastery chapel inside. The chapel is totally bare for Lent. No flowers, no greens, no paschal candle only an empty stand. I know that in a weeks time all of this will change. I can hardly wait. But meanwhile, I am living that empty space between death and new life. This is of course at the heart of our Lenten journey.
My Personal Lenten journey this year started a week before Lent with a fall from my bike which resulted in a broken shoulder bone, a week in the public hospital in a room with 60 other patients, and four weeks of living with only one arm, and constant pain and immobility. I was brought to my knees. For the first time in my 60 years I was really “ill”. I needed treatment and I could not take care of myself alone. My usual daily activities were interrupted by this physical injury. Even sleeping at night was a challenge.
As of late I have stopped finding things to let go of during Lent. Perhaps because they just tend to find me, I do not need to find them. Life’s odd circumstances tend to create all of the Lenten tension and challenges beyond anything that I can make up or imagine. The sudden death and abstinences that life sends us from season to season is usually more than we can handle. Dying and Rising are going on around us and within us all the time. We are invited during these seasons to embrace those changes that are beyond our control.
I am reminded of a wonderful Easter hymn. “Now the green blade riseth.”
The words are, “Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain. Wheat that in dark earth many days hath lain. Love lives again, that with the dead has been. Love is come again like wheat that springeth green.”
Each of us lives with the grain that is dying and awaiting new life. Jesus reminds us that the grain of wheat must die before it can sprout new life. When our lives lay fallow in the ground, new life and birth seem far away. Perhaps it is illness, or loss, a sudden change in our relationships, anything that pulls the rug from under us and brings us to our knees. It is hard too see new life in an empty chapel or a fallow field. But like Springtime, new life is always ingrained in the depths of our being. We just have to wait it out for it to make its way known.
Easter life is only a few days away. New life and new birth is waiting to be born again in us now and always. For God is constantly born in us.
“When our hearts are wintry, grieving or in pain. Jesus’ touch can call us back to life again. Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been. Love is come again like wheat that springeth green.”
Pic The Monastery Fields awaiting birth and new life.