A few days ago, a slight change in the weather and a gust of wind let us know that Fall had arrived. What does this change in the seasons mean to you? For some, it means that the end of the year is coming along with festive holidays. However, when you reach a certain age, Fall feels like the beginning of the “wintry season” of life. And the pandemic has been very much a “wintery season”. The festive holidays approach, but also a sadness appears with endings that overreach the passing of another year.
I’m sure the social sciences and all sorts of human development theories offer an abundance of insight and help to understand all of these very human realities. Without discounting this at all, we enter the sacred space of our faith and there we discover ourselves constantly discovered by God. I like the turn in the phrase, the initiative is always the Lord’s. It is he who discovers us, and reveals over and over again, to ourselves, our true identity.
To insist on the Lord’s initiative is the first expression of faith that is often hard to pronounce in the early years when it is Spring or Summer. This is probably especially difficult in the 21st century. In the mind of many, the idea of God feels oppressive and against the drive to be successful, to possess and be powerful. This is a battle between ideas, concepts, and failed attempts to give meaning to life based on the external and what is ultimately not real. To begin with, God cannot be an idea, and the ideas of success, possession, and power tend to fade no matter how much violence is cultivated in order to force them to stay. In the 21st century, gratitude is also difficult. Many voices, attitudes, and behavior seem to say, why should one be grateful? “I have what I deserve, what I have, I am entitled to, what I have, belongs to me”.
However, in the “wintry time”, illusions begin to fade away. Something happens, not from the outside, but from within. Unable to run away or wanting to run away from darkness any longer, you remain still and bless the company of silence. The mind begins to quiet, the will begins to quiet, desire begins to quiet. In the words of the mystic, “all things are passing, all things will change, God is always present, God changes never”. There is a sense of awe as the realization dawns that hope and joy and dreams and love, are never sustained by what is doomed to pass away. They are sustained by the eternal who is God and are a gift freely given, not just to some, but to all. Another mystic would say of this, “my grace is sufficient for you”. Hope and joy and dreams and love are part of who God is and who we are in God, they will never pass away.
From the depth of this quiet and silence, freedom. The freedom to be. And here, there may be a special hope, perhaps a God promise. That each movement into the quiet and silence of God may be like the wind that is driven by the movement of butterfly wings. A movement is so delicate and so real as to bring about change in our world. A change that the butterfly may never witness, but change that will take place nevertheless. It may also be as God washing the feet of Peter. God, through the freedom that is born in the depths of the human heart, in the “wintry time”, washes the feet of humanity that are hurt and overwhelmed by fatigue, and something new is offered.
Father Francisco Gómez, S.T.