READ: Ephesians 1
“Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all the spiritual blessings of heaven in Christ. Thus God chose us in Christ before the world was created to be holy and faultless before God in love, marking us out beforehand to be His adopted children, through Jesus Christ. Such was God’s purpose and joy, to the praise of the glory of His grace, God’s free gift to us in the Beloved, in whom, through His sacrifice, we gain our freedom, the forgiveness of our sins. Such is the richness of the grace which He has showered upon us in all wisdom and insight. God has let us know the the mystery of His purpose, according to His will which He determined beforehand in Christ, for Him to act upon in the fullness of time, bringing all things together under Christ … May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and perception of what is being revealed, to bring you into the full knowledge of the ways and wishes of God.. May God enlighten the eyes of your mind so you can see what hope God’s beckoning does hold for you …” – Ephesians 1:1-10,17-18
The oak tree that dwells beside my cabin hermitage is now in full autumn glory. There will come a day when she will be barren of leaves, resting in her winter’s slumber. One day, the first leaflets of Spring will come forth from her, and then the Summer will bring forth her acorns and the fullness of her shade. And then … autumn will return to her. And I ask … what is the destiny of my oak tree? Does she find her destiny in being the springtime hope, the summer’s richness, the autumn’s resplendence, the winter’s resolve?
This tall and spreading oak tree was once an acorn fallen to the ground, was once a sprig daring to grow, was once a strapping young sapling reaching upward and outward, and now, a flourishing oak feeding a neighborhood of squirrels and nesting a village of birds and shading a portion of the good earth. She has been all these and there is more to come … one day, her wood will crack, her roots give way, and her timber will slowly turn to sawdust, some into the earth, maybe some into human recreations of her living. And I ask … what is the destiny of my oak tree? Why was she here? Where did she come from and to where will she go?
In Benedictine spirituality … and I offer, in all thoughtful Christian spirituality … God is known to be a God of divine process … a living soul who keeps maturing through time, a dynamic Creator and a dynamic Sustainer, a Providence that keeps transforming, maturing with the passing of time. In Benedictine spirituality, we understand that God created life with its hours and its seasons, always in change while still always in its nature. We believe that the glory of the oak tree is in its springtime and its summertime, its autumn and its winter – its glory is in the fullness of its time. And thus, we believe that our Christian spirituality is also a growing, maturing, living dynamic … its glory is in its living of the different hours of a day, the sunrise, the dawn, the noonday, the gloaming, the dusk, the night and even the darker night … and its glory is in its living to the fullest the seasons of its lifetime, each in its time, each in its order: the spring, the summer, the autumn and the winter, each with its own glory. We believe that our Christian spirituality is both the faith of the acorn and the witness of the acorn-making; we believe that our Christian spirituality is both found in the strength of the wood and in the sacrifice of the sawdust, in the maturing, in its changing, and its somehow living on beyond itself.
So, my Loved Ones, let the children be playful children in Christ and let the young saplings be stretching upward and outward in Christ and let the old grey oaks be thoughtful and wise in Christ. We are the glory of God, not merely me; not merely my generation, but all the generations of time. For you see, the oak tree’s glory is always found in the “fullness” of its time. We are young and we are old; we are acorns and we are acorn-makers; we are both green leaves and gold; we are yesterday’s forest as well as tomorrow’s.
Brother Anthony of the Cross