If you’ve read my posts lately, you may have noticed that God has been gently widening my view and inviting me “to see all people as my kin, all living beings as my flesh.”*
As I do this, I’ve been challenged to turn from self-interest and pay more attention to others. God is encouraging me to participate in what benefits them, even when I don’t benefit from these things directly myself. It’s hard to talk about this without feeling a certain amount of shame.
But God doesn’t share or contribute to my shame. Instead God patiently, lovingly offers support. Recently that support came in the words of Gail Purdy, a partner in SoulStream‘s dispersed community. Gail wrote,
Walking in the forest in spring renews my soul. As I notice all the signs of new life, I see many decaying leaves from last fall still clinging to the tree branches. These leaves remind me of my walks in the fall when I first noticed them getting caught in the trees as they fell. It was almost as if they made every effort to keep from falling to the ground. They seemed to be trying to hold on to what they thought was life as other leaves floated past them. As I continued to walk through the winter, I noticed how these leaves had become shrivelled and curled around the branches.
As I walked today, I saw the beauty of new life everywhere. I still noticed the decaying leaves as I am always intrigued by their tenacity. They are now heavy with moisture, still clinging to the tree branches. I thought about how they have missed the opportunity for new life. I reflected on the areas in my life where I still cling and where I need to let go in order to be transformed.
I looked more closely at the leaves today and noticed a beautiful transparency and thought, Hmmm… they are still being transformed, even though they seem to be just doing nothing. So often I seem to hold on to ways of being that no longer give life. Seeing the dead leaves in the midst of the beautiful greens of spring, I become aware of my longing for more Life.
I am hopeful that even in my holding on, the Giver of Life continues to transform me. My hope, if I let go, is that I will fall and be caught, and held in the magnificent embrace of Love. Somehow, and in some way, I am part of this great mystery of death, resurrection, and life.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit. –2 Corinthians 3:17-18
∗ ∗ ∗
My friend Nancy Bailey, a professional clown sometimes known as Mother Goose, has been up to much love mischief in her life. She tells this story of when she was a child growing up in Pennsylvania. “I walked across a neighbour’s pasture to the creek where I often played. There on the stones at the edge of the creek were several leg-hold traps set to capture fur-bearing animals. Horrified by what would happen to these creatures, I ran home to get a pencil and some paper. As I hurried back, I gathered a few sticks. I used them to spring the traps and left a note on each one saying, ‘Stop hurting animals!’ When I returned later, the traps were gone.” Yay, Nancy!