A couple of weeks ago, I took my dog for a walk on one of the local trails near our home. Amid the beauty of the surroundings, he ambled and explored while I turned my brain off, experiencing instead the multitude of stimuli present for all my senses. The well-worn path was finally becoming hazard free after the winter; sounds, sights and scents proved rewarding for my curious young companion. This was the path that I walked every Friday in the fall, until cold harsh winds, snow and ice proved too much of a deterrent for us both. This path is now strewn with the debris of winter: branches and boughs, mess and clutter. It follows the path of a river from the hills to where it meets the salt waters of Conception Bay. Normally we walk this trail down to its end, and sit on the beach rocks and watch the waters meet.
This day our walk was cut short, for two thirds of the way down, the path became immersed in water. Though we wanted to continue (and one was able), the pattern of our journey was impeded by the river. The only way to continue would be to cross the river.
This week it seems as if this experience has offered me much to ponder. The journey through Lent and Holy Week in this part of the world has been continuously intertwined with changes in nature – specifically weather, all around us. Worship and study, fellowship and outreach have been shaped by our abilities to adapt to environment. Throughout Lent and Holy Week there have been points where we could easily stumble, and not continue, from blizzards in early Lent to shoveling snow from the steps on Good Friday morning.
It is easy to consider the Lenten journey in this way, and also to celebrate the natural change that comes with Easter glory, spring, and new life. Yet this is not so clear cut. Amid the flood of changes: more daylight, new growth, melting and thawing, there are more obstacles and stumbling blocks on the journey. The seasons in this province are not always synchronized; ours is a slow transformation to spring, and with it much fluctuation, rdf (rain, drizzle, fog), which sometimes outlasts the lengths of Lent and Eastertide combined.
With the flood of the Easter message comes this province’s spring break for those in school, and with it a southern migration, such that many miss Holy Week liturgies, Easter and Easter week, choosing instead warm beaches and sun. The culmination of our story as faith community becomes sidelined for much needed warmth and relaxation.
It is easier then, for me to see the stories of Thomas, wayward disciples, and a community of lost hope in these days as we recall the resurrection appearances in the coming weeks. Their journeys were marked with confusion, bewilderment, not unlike these barriers and river crossings. Though they may not have known it, I believe they too never lacked a Companion.