386 If the swallows can do it, we can do it!
DAY 386 Easter Tuesday, April 6th, 2021
If the swallows can do it, we can do it!
April 2021 A TIME OF NEW LIFE
Pax Romana — The Peace of Rome. Sounds pretty nice, doesn't it? Well, it wasn't! Rome had conquered a good part of the world and would tolerate no disturbance. Any trouble was put down quickly, with incredible brutality and cruelty. It lasted for 200 oppressive years.
From the first moment that Jesus of Nazareth began to preach, it was obvious that he would clash with the Roman occupying forces and those supporting them. Did Jesus have an ethical perspective or a political one? In those days the two were inextricably bound together. The end was predictable — another troublemaking Jew crucified outside the walls of Jerusalem.
That was supposed to be the end of it — but in Jesus' case it wasn't. His painful death was not the final word. What happened? Some friends in our circle believe that Jesus physically rose from the dead. Others believe that his spirit and teachings were kept alive by a fellowship of followers. It doesn't really matter to me.
The important thing, I think, is that this Jew from Nazareth in some manner helped defeat the imperial power of Rome! His death was not the final word that Rome had hoped for. The life and wisdom of Jesus kept rolling on and growing — as Imperial Rome corrupted and faded.
So what comes next?
I am one of those who believe that Jesus did everything he could and then turned it over to us to carry on. How are we doing?
I will let you answer that for yourself and those you love. I think, however, we can all agree we are presently in a season of new life. I just saw a dozen young quail hurriedly following their parents from one row of olive trees to the next. They are on their way to a large field of tiny purple flowers. What are they going to do there? I have no idea. That is pretty much how I see our contemporary cultural expedition as well. We each have decisions to make.
Eastertide — the aroma of chocolate pervades. Colored eggs are everywhere. It's a joyful occasion. At the same time the United Nations warned this week that 400,000 Yemeni children will most likely starve to death this year.
How do we balance our joy with our responsibilities toward each other? That question sounds very much like what Jesus of Nazareth and many other spiritual leaders have been putting to us throughout the ages.
And just to repeat myself, which at my age is assumed and allowed, those remarkable people did their part and now it's our job to do our part in making the “good news,” and the “kingdom of God” become realities in our moment of history.
In facing these big questions about being mindful of and participating in new life, I find guidance in nature. Two days ago the swallows arrived once again at Starcross. They have traveled 6000 miles from Argentina to spend the summer here giving birth to their young and raising them. Who knows what trouble they had encountered on the way. Some time ago there was a major disaster. Hundreds of swallows were in our old barn which caught on fire because of faulty utility company wires. Most of the swallows refused to leave the barn because it would mean abandoning their young in the nests as they could not yet fly.
We thought that was the end of seeing them. But the next year a few came back, and they've increased every year since then. They will stay until sometime in September when they will start making large circles to ensure that the young have really learned to fly and then one day they will make the trip back to Argentina. But we know we will see them again next year. I have thought of those swallows frequently in some of the darker moments of the COVID-19 pandemic.
If the swallows can do it, we can do it!
Soon there will be little faces looking out of the swallow nests trying to make sense of the world around them. All over the world are newborns doing the same thing. This is truly a season of new life physically, and hopefully, spiritually.
Okay, it's our business to make this a better world. But where do we find the wisdom of folks like Jesus of Nazareth that help us? I'm fond of the Gospel of Mary of Magdala. It was never chosen to be one of the canonical Gospels. In 1896 a few sections of The Gospel of Mary came to light in Cairo. Some feel it had been suppressed in the 5th century. Why? Well, she was a woman and besides some followers of Peter didn’t like that Mary much. But I think this section would have made Jesus smile and nod agreement,
When the blessed one had finished, he said to them all, “Peace be with you. Find my peace within yourselves. Be on your guard, so that no one deceives you by saying, ‘Look over here!’ or ‘Look over there!’ For the sacred light exists within you. Follow it, Those who search for it will find it.”
Have a blessed Easter — may we all acquire some of that Divine Peace that resides within each of us. And, as Jesus said so many times, “Be not afraid.”
- Brother Toby
He is that high, dazed and alive
When you spend hours stealing
Glimpses at the stars
Like keys wrapped around a promise
To free you from these bars
Limitations placed so certainly
On top of you on top of me
I seek my way out
Like a star gazer seeks understanding
I’m planning on playing my hand just right
Putting you next to me
King of hearts at my side
Or maybe you are a joker,
Either way put on your poker face
We have life and space, set no pace
Like untimed steps under
A fall to far
Sing to me a jazzy song
From a time that’s far,
Dance with me
Dance along, move your feet
Make no promise you can’t keep
Just feel it
It’s like freedom but on fire
Like trust without certainty
Acrobat without a wire
Like letting go
A grand release
A found voice to speak
Passions pushed blood to cheek
Blushing past shades of pink
Pull you in, close to me
Fearless in you and me
Written by Tea
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