Light and Shadows

LIGHT AND SHADOWS

READ:  Romans 8:27,28

And the Spirit who searches the heart know what is in the mind of God, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.   And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called to God’s purpose.– Romans 8:27,28

pilgrimage
As the Brothers and Novices slowly walk down the Colonnade that leads to the chapel, they pass through a course of lights and shadows.  Even in the pale moonlight, though much softer and more subdued than in the bright sunlight, that reverential walk is one made through that pattern of alternating light and shadow.  And I find it to be a metaphor for the Christian life, at least as embraced by those here at Greyfriars’ Abbey, for we believe that the Christian pilgrimage is one made through both light and shadows.

Life, even the Christian life, even the contemplative Christian life, is a journey through joys and sorrows, through celebrations and crises, through sunshine and storms, through summers and winters, through lush valleys and barren deserts.  And it is because we have lived faithfully through all these diverse times that we are able to complete the journey to our Promised Land.

Though contrary to some voices you might hear today, Jesus forewarned his disciples that the road ahead of them would not always be easy … in fact, sometimes the road would be a long and winding road, sometimes hard and rocky path, sometimes a slow, steep and suffering endurance.  But we still take heart … for Jesus also promised that He would walk it all the way with us, each and every step … teaching us all along the way, sometimes taught by campfires in the darkness of the night, sometimes beneath shade trees in the light of day.

The Brothers like to sit and read among the light and shadows of our Colonnade of light and shadows.  In the heat of summer, they tend to sit in the cool of the shadows; in the cold of winter, they tend to sit in the warmth of the light.  In the course of a year, we have come to appreciate both the shadows and the light.

As I think about the Brothers as they walk in line to the chapel … I see elderly Brothers making their way slowly, leaning on canes and walkers.  I see grieving Brothers who have lived through loss of loved ones.   I see Brothers carrying in their bodies the wounds of war, and even more, in their minds the memories of war.  I see a Brother who is blind and others who are going blind.  I see Brothers who are deaf and others going deaf.  I even see a Brother with but one arm.  I see a Brother suffering from cancer; I see a Brother just now entering the world of Alzheimer’s; I see a Brother who limps because of a stroke suffered in his childhood years.  But still … as I see them all walk through that pattern of lights and shadows, I see them all as saints in the making, as pilgrims making their way home.  Yes, we each and we all have our struggles and we each and we all have our suffering, but through it all we can find meaning and we gain our mature seasoning because we endure them with Christ.  And because we make this light and shadowed journey with Christ, this real-life pilgrimage through our human reality, it is all somehow turned into something good by way of the Spirit.

Brother Simon is our blind brother.  Once a month, the school children come and Brother Simon teaches them the songs of the birds who live here on the Abbey grounds and the surrounding woods.  And Brother Simon is very good at this … for Brother Simon – for reasons quite obvious – … can hear the sounds of Creation far better than most.  Did you know that you can tell one specific cardinal from another just by its song?  Brother Simon can … and he keeps trying to teach me how I might do so as well.

Learn from the lights and learn from the shadows, God can be found in each, for God is here and there and everywhere.

And the Spirit who searches the heart know what is in the mind of God, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.   And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called to God’s purpose.– Romans 8:27,28

Pax,

Brother Anthony of the Cross
(jim mcwhinnie)


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

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