Written by: Bro. Brian Poulin
Memorial of the Holy Guardian Angels
I spent a lot more time than usual thinking about the equinox this year. I’m usually not too sophisticated about the change of seasons… I figure that summer must last from Memorial Day to Labor Day, winter includes any month in which I might reasonably see snow in New England, and autumn and spring are what’s left. It’s an imperfect understanding, but good enough.
Two things were different this year though. First, for whatever reason, I am more sensitive than usual to the days getting shorter. That aspect of winter might actually bother me a bit this year. Second, I just happened to be planning a prayer service for the morning of September 22 and was looking for whether that day itself had any inherent theme worth examining.
What a wonderful occasion to explore both wholeness and ambivalence! This day that contains day and night in equal measure can also remind us of the summer warmth we leave behind and the winter chill to come, even as we enjoy the beauty of fall colors and the gifts of harvest. On the thematic level at least, the equinox has it all. And if we can consecrate this symbolic day of balance and fullness to God, don’t we implicitly acknowledge God’s domain over the year that has already past as well as the remaining year to come?
Much to the delight of our two Marist novices in the USA, Bro. Steve Kappes recently shared that one preferred mode of prayer for him is to open his senses to the world around him and give God thanks by building on a canticlefrom the Book of Daniel that appears in the Liturgy of the Hours. Yes, “fire and heat, bless the Lord,” and “cold and chill, bless the Lord,” but as Bro. Steve goes out for an afternoon walk in Miami, he can also add “little lizard, bless the Lord,” and “welcome shade, bless the Lord.”
Our novices (who were actually postulants then) admiringly quoted Steve for at least the next several weeks: “Little lizard, bless the Lord.” All of creation can inspire wonder in us, if we only let it. So what better time than equinox to remember that God is in the night every bit as much as in the day. God is in the warmth and in the cold alike. God is in our times of safety and in our times of danger.
There is indeed a season for everything. Killing and healing, mourning and dancing, rending and sewing, all of these things will happen, and God will be present when they do. Atrocity is no more foreign to our God than miracle. This is not to say that God ordains evil, but rather that he does not abandon us to it. He remains the true God even in the face of the ungodly and remains our God who will stay with us through it all, no matter what.
There is indeed a season for every possible thing, whether it be a cause for lament or rejoicing. Because ours is a God of all these seasons though, we can consider his unconditional presence with our own attitude of unconditional hope.
This week’s ‘ear candy’ provides a beautiful illustration of hope, purpose, and the possibility of healing action even in the face of travesty. It points not only to the presence of God in hard times but also how we can cooperate in manifesting God’s loving presence. The ‘brain food’ is similar in some ways, insofar as it portrays the response of some religious organizations to a recent border crisis.
Ear Candy: “The Flower” by Michael Franti & Spearhead (featuring Victoria Canal)
Brain Food: “Faith Groups Band Together to Help Haitians Camped at US-Mexico Border” by Nuri Vallbona
Come back on the first Saturday of next month for a new post!