Light

I saw light fall so thickly through the clouds that it drenched the distant plain in yellow gold, the soft silhouettes of trees seeming adrift in an ocean of light. And I thought, what it would be to walk in that magnificent land, saturated in the glorious light! And though the light was bright so that it would dazzle I felt I would not be dazzled but filled with light and one with the light. And is it such a land we are called to?
And I wondered, what would it be like in that land of glory to look back at the dark world of pain, emptiness, loss, grief, foolishness and frustration, in which we now live? At my life now lived? And it seemed not empty but precious – for who could help but love the Son of God, bathed in his glory, healed of all pain, filled with his light? But now in the dark adversity of this empty life of longing and pain, to love him is faith indeed! That is love indeed! That is a memory to savour in the eternity of light, and now and now only can such memories be made.
And I saw that it is not a poor life I have been given even in its most dismal failures and cruel misfortunes, but indeed these are my greatest opportunities to praise my Lord, to love him as now only he can be loved, to share even a small part of the fellowship of his suffering, which memory we will share forever.
And I left off to envy the prosperous whether deserving or undeserving, to berate myself for failing to attain their goods or standing or benefits, even those who have prospered in welldoing, to accomplish their works. For there is no thing good or bad in which I cannot thank the Lord and know his greatness and kindness. For even in my own stupidity I can praise the Lord that he loves me nonetheless, and one day I shall be wise by his grace, and not suffer then from my foolishness now.
And though I saw that in bad things there is opportunity, yet I did not despise pleasure or success or satisfaction or love, such is they may be had in this life. For being freed from the grief of failure or of love or pleasure lost, seeing now the worth of that grief, I was free also from dissatisfaction with this world’s good, knowing it instead as a welcome reprieve from darkness in which may be found good but which is hard to bear, and I no longer sought that the good should be better but praised God doubly for it!
And though I have often regretted that I did not help others more, I now see that I could not increase the greatest opportunity they already had, to look to their Lord with gratitude in every circumstance; neither can any man take it from them. Neither did I, if I have harmed any. And so at last I had peace. I saw that God is not the author of darkness, but has granted that we may walk now through it, that we may show our love for our Lord in such a way that we will forever regard as one of his greatest gifts to us, to know him in the pain of the world he died for, to show ourselves his own, such as we may never do again. Praise be to God, amen.

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Running on empty

Figs out of season – not really a big deal for the one who turned water into wine, who fed thousands with a few loaves and fishes – twice. And that’s only what we know about. Jesus even said to his disciples, what are you worried about food for? Don’t you remember the loaves and the fishes? (That’s my version – sorry its not word for word, it would pay to check the original.) But that morning on the way into Jerusalem Jesus was hungry. But then there’s more to figs out of season than just food. These are special figs – God figs. These are figs from the Father. That’s why Jesus was hungry, and that’s what he hungered for – a nod, a smile, a ‘keep going Son’ from on high. A message in figs – figs where there shouldn’t be figs, right where you need them. I’m not saying Jesus wasn’t physically hungry, I’m saying when we are emotionally drained we are looking for something to keep us going. And when Jesus saw that fig tree, a ray of hope flickered in him, and he knew, if Father was giving me breakfast, that’s where it would be. Food for body and soul, food for faith if you have a heart to know it, and no one had faith like Jesus, a heart like Jesus, who knew the mind of the Father, who saw Father’s hand at work everywhere. And in that fig tree, Jesus searched for that hand.

You see, it seems to me that as Jesus braced himself that day for the subtle, deadly, piercing inquisition of the pharisees, and the oceanic needs of the people, the seeds of what were to be some of his final words – Father, Father, why have you forsaken me? – had already been sown. He woke that morning feeling strangely alone, strangely empty, strangely abandoned. And in his heart he knew, ‘it has begun’. This is the end game. And its mine, and mine alone. And out of that realisation weakness flooded him, hunger arose, then anger – but that’s for another post. Before that came the fig tree, and a ray of hope – this is how it has always been, you and me Father, always your lifeline, the hand that no one sees, though I tell them, though I point to it, they stare blindly, but I see, I know, and I need your lifeline so much.

Not this time. As Jesus searched the branches, bleary-eyed, bewildered disciples watching, behind every leaf was only the cold realisation, it was not to be. A new feeling. A closed door. An empty stomach.