Spring renews our hope
Every spring brings with it the promise of new beginnings. Here at the monastery, there are ample signs that spring has arrived. Birds are making their nests. Trees and shrubs are starting to bloom. Milder temperatures have roused the bees, wasps, ladybugs and countless other small creatures that make their home here.
In a month or so, we will see baby deer, birds, squirrels and probably more than a few kittens. The magic that is spring casts its wondrous spell all over the place. All these new and wondrous gifts of life, gifts that are here for a while and then gradually recede from view.
For it is also true that each gift of spring comes marked by the inevitability of death. It all recedes so that from its life, more life can and will come.
These days, our readings at Mass are also filled with biblical accounts of another new life. They are called the post-Resurrection accounts. They tell of Jesus appearing to His disciples after His death and Resurrection.
He walks with them, eats with them, speaks with them. His disciples marvel at Him. They touch Him, ask Him questions, beg Him to stay, delight in His presence.
In these accounts, Jesus moves about freely, giving encouragement and hope to His disciples. They listen, and slowly learn of the different ways that Jesus will be present to them, to us, as a source of life -- as an eternal spring.
They learn that He will be known in the breaking of bread -- in Eucharistic fellowship. They will learn that where two or three are gathered in the name of Jesus, He will be in their midst.
They learn that Jesus will be within them, a living part of their very being, in that He and He alone will be their life. And it will be a life that no one can take from them. It will be a life that knows no autumns or winters or summers -- just the eternal beauty of a life-giving spring.
As we look about this spring and take delight in all that comes to life around us, it is, I think, a good idea that we pray for a growth of something less tangible than a leaf but just as real and delicate and beautiful.
For Easter is the birth of hope. It is a hope not in anything or anyone that may come our way this spring or the next. It is the hope that within each person, within each situation, with every step we take and every place we look, the presence of the Risen Lord is as real and as fresh as it always was.
He walks among us. He shares His life with us every day of our lives, because we are His.
His is a presence we cannot ever lose. It is a presence that won't die in the winters of our lives. And it won't grow old in our autumns.
All the world is His, and one day our hopes will come to pass when we awaken to a spring that has banished forever all fear, all worry and even death itself. 'Til then, we must wait and, above all, hope.
Father James Stephen (Jeff) Behrens, O.C.S.O., serves at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, 2625 Highway 212 SW, Conyers. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.