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Hope and New Life – A Reflection

March 7, 2020

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During our brief trip to San Francisco we spent a lot of time near the water. We also did a tremendous amount of walking since we decided not to rent a car. As we spent time on the Bay, it was truly a time of revitalization. Watching this Gull soaring above us and actually being able to find the moment when its flight and my camera lens came together was wonderful. As we soaked up the sound of the waves coming ashore and watched the boats and the wildlife, we felt a sense of renewal. As much as we love our mountain home in the Rockies, it is always nice to spend some time on the water whether it is in San Francisco or on the Gulf Coast.

Tomorrow in Worship I will light the second candle of Lent which represents Earth. The following is a portion of the liturgy which will accompany the candle lighting. We light this candle on this second Sunday of Lent, remembering God’s assurance of new life through the signs of spring in the earth… Prayer: As the days lengthen and bulbs are preparing deep in the earth, dear God, may we be ready for what you are preparing to grow in us. Nourish us so that we might bear spiritual fruit. In the name of Christ, with whom we journey towards the cross, we pray. Amen.

Did you catch the symbolism in the words? New Life… Signs of Spring… Growth… Spiritual Fruit… They all point towards renewal which is one of the major factors in our Lenten observance.

There is also the symbolism of Psalm 121 where we are urged to lift up our eyes to the mountain and ask, where does our help come from. I know for myself personally, when I am out in the midst of God’s wondrous creation that I have no doubt where it comes from even in the wildness of the wilderness. The one who created such beauty is our strength and our guide.

In their book Superabundantly Alive: Thomas Merton’s Dance with the Feminine Susan McCaslin and JS Porter talk about Thomas Merton and his thoughts about the theology of encounter. The theology of encounter leads to the theology of kindness and respect. While Merton was considering the encounter between humans, it could just as easily be said about creation. If we properly encounter creation with an attitude of respect, this encounter can be life changing. We can then find ourselves approaching creation with kindness and respect. For Denise and for me, such an approach led to the 45 minute sacred encounter with this Bull Moose in the Rocky Mountain National Park.

Our friend the Bull Moose wasn’t disturbed at all by us as we kept our distance (I was using my zoom lens!) and talked quietly with him. He grazed, he rested, and he even posed so that we could have a variety of pictures of him. We encountered him and in so doing we shared mutual kindness and respect.

If we can but translate that into the way we treat each other, can you imagine what a wonderful world this could be? Louis Armstrong – What a Wonderful World

What must I do to become born anew Nicodemus asked Jesus. Jesus responded: Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” — John 3:7-8

I can almost hear Merton replying, to Nicodemus, “You want to be reborn? Encounter the wonders of God’s creation and your neighbors… then in the transformation of that encounter you will feel only kindness and respect for one another.”

Yes, my dear reader, in these holy encounters (even in the midst of the wilderness places) I can find hope and new life. My prayer is that you will find it as well. Then we can be about making this a more wonderful world. Oh yeah…. 🎶

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