THE EMERGENCE OF A BLUE-FLOWERED HOPE
READ: Romans 8:22-25
“We are well aware that the whole Creation, up until this present day, has been struggling to break free from its bondage, much as a woman struggles during her labor. And we too, who have experienced the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we are groaning inside ourselves, waiting with eagerness for our own lives to be set free. In hope, we have already known salvation; in hope, not yet arrived, or we would not have hope for nobody hopes for something that has already arrived. But in having this hope for what we as of yet we cannot see, we are able to wait for it with persevering confidence.” – Romans 8:22-25
I stood on a blacktop desert covered with faded yellow lines, a sullen sea of starkness and barrenness. The massive buildings were now empty, the signs of commerce all taken down, leaving behind only their dusty shadows. Here and there, the windows were disappearing, one thrown rock by one thrown rock. Here and there, the spray paint artists had left the angry, tribal scrawls of their graffiti. This shopping mall once bustled with Christmas shoppers and teenagers cruising its avenues. This parking lot was once filled with mini-vans and station wagons and shoppers pushing shopping carts. But now … everyone had left, gone on to other places, everything had been packed up and shipped away, to malls in other places. Now, all that was left was but abandonment and acres and acres of pavement. But then … in the midst of this sadness, there near my feet, poking through a break in the cruel asphalt, a little, blue flower began its monumental hope of recovering this place for the Lord.
This first greening of hope I have come to call the divine miracle of the Emergence. Thought rises out of the context of monastic patience and the process of sanctifying salvation. In the Benedictine understanding of Christian discipleship, the Christ-likeness “emerges” out of our humanity … and it does so by way of hope being lived … over time.
Yes, the Christian disciple is a creation of Divine Grace applied over Time. An old-fashioned word for this work of patient grace is sanctification, the process by which a sinner is saved from his or her sinfulness, the process by which a sinner becomes more holy … more holy in the direction of a more Perfect Love. Sanctification involves not only our human willingness to be set aside for God’s work but also to be set aside in the workshop of grace for God’s work to be done upon us. And as we are faithful in persevering in the process of Hope, our Christ-like selves become more and more a part of us and a Christ-like world becomes more and more visible before our eyes.
Benedictine Novices hear it often, ohhhh, so often. The well-seasoned Brothers and the Spiritual Directors keep counseling us newcomers to … “Trust the Process of God!” So we remain faithful in our keeping the Daily Liturgy, seven formal prayer times each day. So we remain faithful in our holy reading, our lectio divina, for me, five Psalms a day, along with two chapters of Wisdom, a chapter of Torah, a chapter of History, a chapter of the Prophets, two chapters of Gospel and two chapters of New Testament, fifty pages of spiritual classics, fifty pages of modern day spiritual writing. So we remain faithful to being in a constant attitude of prayer; so we remain faithful at doing both our daily chores within the Abbey confines and our servant ministry outside the Abbey confines. So we remain faithful in our daily confession and our daily forgiving, our listening, our serving, our loving. So many days one feels as if little progress is being made … but yet …. “We keep trusting the Process of God ...” Why? Because every now and then … a little, blue flower breaks through and reminds us of the power of persevering Hope.
My Loved Ones, our world is suffering from chronic negativity. It has been slowly turning God’s wondrous Creation into acres of barren, fading asphalt. Too many talking heads blaming those “other” guys, too many hatemongers stirring kettles of fear to a boil, too many naysayers and too many doomsayers … and far too few … oh, yes, far too few of “little, blue flowers” beginning their monumental hope of the Kingdom of God emerging out of the barrenness.
Brother Anthony of the Cross
— Visit my poetry site, Willow Words, by clicking www.willowwordspoetry.wordpress.com .
Also visit my new Psalter site for a reading of the Psalms www.thepsalmsbybrotheranthony.wordpress.com