As I write this I am sitting in a coffee shop, on a beautiful spring-like day. It’s amazing how a bit of good weather in the midst of the cold we’ve had can lift the spirit to new life. And new life will ALWAYS come after the cold of winter. It’s in the cold of winter that I need to remember this!
No matter what the “winter” of life is, whether it be illness, a broken relationship, loss of job or even death itself, we are promised the advent of new life beyond it. I just need to mentally remind myself of that fact, even though I may not be “feeling” it at the time. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of looking for small hints.
Last night, as I left the hospital I looked up and noticed that there was still light in the sky and it was 6:10pm. The light of Spring is coming! But right now, it’s just a hint, barely noticeable. But it’s there and it points to the warmth and light to come.
As my friend shows signs of improvement and communication, so may this point to his full recovery to come. May healing light and warmth surround you my friend and brother Mike.
Happy New Year!
Matthew 1: 18-24
Joseph, an upright man, a good religious man, embarrassed, frightened, confused and wanting a divorce. Mary a dedicated woman of faith, yet unmarried and pregnant. No room for them to stay and so a cave where animals are kept, shitty and smelly, becomes the place of his birth. . . . Who would ever think that nothing less than God would emerge from this mess?
God chooses to come to us in the mess of life! And our lives at times can certainly be quite messy. There are illnesses, quarrels, wars, misunderstandings, depression, addictions and any number of maladies that can befall us. It is precisely in this mess that God chooses to reveal God’s self. It is precisely this mess which can become the birthing place of wonderful things! When life’s messiness comes upon us, we need not fear, but open ourselves to it as a place where wonderful insights can emerge and otherwise undreamt paths can be revealed!
The animated Christmas movie “Martin the Cobbler” (originally a story by Leo Tolstoy) tells the story of Martin, a shoe repairman. Martin’s workshop and living space is in a basement with one window that looks out onto the street where he sees people passing by. Life has left Martin a sad, withdrawn man. His wife died at an early age, leaving him a son to raise. When the son was of age to begin helping him, he took ill and also died. Life had been difficult for Martin and he basically gives up on any belief in a good God.
One night, while reading he hears someone call his name and the voice says: “Martin look out into the street tomorrow for I will come to visit you.” The next day, Martin remembers the voice and begins to look out the window, expecting something to happen. As the day wore on, nothing much happened. But he did see a man he knew who’s shoes were worn and who was cold and hungry. Because the man was blocking the view out his window he invited him in. Noticing he was hungry, Martin gave him something to eat and noticing he was cold, he gave him an extra coat he had. The day passed and nothing extraordinary happened. At the end of the day, he noticed his Bible and he took it out, opened it and noticed the passage where it said “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, thirsty and you gave me something to eat.” He then realized that God had indeed visited him and from then on he kept looking out the window noticing people and his sad, withdrawn life began to blossom again!
God often comes and visits us, but we don’t recognize God. Jesus in the Gospel today says that the people didn’t recognize the prophet Elijah nor do they recognize him. As a matter of fact, people oftentimes get rid of prophets! God visits us every day. Prophets are sent to us everyday. Do we see them? Perhaps we, like Martin, should look out the window of our sadness or pain today and see the One who comes to visit us in many disguises that we might be lead to newness of life!