Sunday, May 1, 2016

Hope Deferred

Frost devastated fig tree
(our dog Honey at lower left)

Did you ever notice that salvation history seem to be a series of false starts?  Right from the very beginning, in Genesis we see God creating a wonderful universe, and placing Adam and Eve there.  But soon comes the dreadful fall.  Then God sends them out into the world and there is a fresh start.  New life happens in the birth of Cain and Abel.  Next, Cain kills Abel.  New hope comes in the form of Seth who seems to get off to a really good start.  He and the family he engenders walk with God, calling upon His name.  Enoch, a descendent of Seth is so good that he is taken up to heaven.  However, the family of Cain intermarries with Seth’s family and corrupts it.  Things become so bad that God regrets He made the world and determines to destroy it with a flood.  But Noah finds favor with Him.  And on it goes.
The New Testament is no different from the Old in this respect.  Jesus begins His ministry with great success but then is crucified.  The resurrection vindicates Him and Pentecost sees the coming of the Holy Spirit in power upon the Apostles.  Persecution, spread of the Gospel to the gentiles, worse persecution by Nero follow in swift succession.  The Church finally wins out and becomes the religion of the empire.  But nothing fails like success, and soon heresies and corruption set in.  Councils, reforms, schisms more reforms, persecution, restitution again follow throughout the centuries and millennia.  Since it has always been this way, it looks like it will continue to be this way until the Lord comes in glory at the end of time.  What is the good of it all?
I began to ponder this question when a few weeks ago, our very warm Spring was suddenly arrested by a killing frost.  Oh, it was so sad to see our fig tree!  It had just sent out its delicate, iridescent green leaves, when the frost hit, turning them into black hanging rags.  But being a seasoned nature lover, and Virginian resident of over 30 years, I knew that nothing stops the Spring for long.  I am still not sure why the frost has to happen in nature or in the life of the spirit, but it must be an intricate part of God’s plan as He is rather consistent about permitting it. The “Exultet” that the Church sings at the Easter Vigil gives us a clue, calling Adam’s sin a “necessary fault” which brought us such a Redeemer. The Paschal Mystery is the “Mystery of Faith”.
Here is a poetic meditation on this theme:

Hope Deferred

The late spring frost horrifies the heart.
O grieve for the daring leaves unfurled,
The new shoots blighted in the starry night,
The cold dawn sparkling on the crystal doom
Of death decreed for the upstart bloom.

But the strains of spring will not be halted.
Its melody will rise undaunted.
Account the frost, not a senseless wrong-
Score it as a measured pause
In song.

New leaves coming!
Spring will not be halted!

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