This is my first post as a member of ‘The Community.’ I am grateful for the opportunity. Each week I will be posting a blog that reflects on our journey as baptized Christians. It is intended to be a place where we might dialogue together about bearing witness to Jesus by virtue of how we journey day by day. It will be a reflection focused on the intersection of Church Street and Main Street. I hope readers will feel comfortable engaging in meaningful conversation and dialogue as part of this virtual community. With that let’s dive in….
Leonard Cohen wrote, “I don’t consider myself a pessimist. I think of a pessimist as someone who is waiting for it to rain. And I feel soaked to the skin.”
The truth be told, many of us are pessimists. Last year we enjoyed an unseasonably warm Spring in March. This year has us all wondering if we could have a private audience with Wiarton Willy. Surely the rodent that we’ve all come to rely on must’ve been a little off on Groundhog Day. There has been much weeping and gnashing of teeth about the weather these past few weeks. These days of rain/snow and wind can get us down. We focus on the darkness. It is difficult to remember the sunshine that has warmed us in the midst of our summer days. It seems to have been a long time ago. But perhaps these cool and damp days are good for us. We forget that sometimes we need to be soaked to the skin to fully appreciate the nature of being warm and dry. Another great line of Leonard Cohen is found his song Anthem – “Ring the bell that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” Somewhere across the windswept, rain-soaked or snow filled sky that I look into is a ray of light. It may be dim, but it serves as a reminder to me that the sun will shine, that the sun has not vanished, that the live-giving power of the Son is still there despite the fact that it obscured at the moment with a grey darkness.
Is it Optimism that we need to embrace then? In Bread for the Journey Henri Nouwen writes about living with hope. “Optimism and hope are radically different attitudes. Optimism is the expectation that things—the weather, human relationship, the economy, the political situation, and so on—will get better. Hope is trust that God will fulfil God’s promises to us in a way that leads us to true freedom. The optimist speaks about concrete changes in the future. The person of hope lives in the moment with the knowledge and trust that all of life is in good hands. All the great spiritual leaders in history were people of hope. Abraham, Moses, Ruth, Mary, Jesus, Rumi, Gandhi, and Dorothy Day all lived with a promise in their hearts that guided them toward the future without the need to know exactly what it would look like. Let’s live with hope.”
No matter what causes us to be pessimistic, we need to be reminded that by nature of who we are, that we should live as Optimists. We need to be optimistic because we are a people who are bathed in hope. You see, like Leonard says, ‘we are soaked to the skin.’ We have been saturated in the waters of baptism. That soaking has caused us to wade into waters that are often tumultuous. Following Jesus of Nazareth as a baptised follower sometimes will cause us to ask difficult questions about why life can sometimes be so demanding, sometimes dark, and in many cases cruel. But the covenant that we share with Jesus calls us to live in hope that our work, compelled by the love of Jesus, directs us to that time when justice and peace will kiss. We declare that God will see truth springing up from the people and justice pouring down a new rain from heaven. There will be a harvest of plentiful love, redeeming and renewing justice, and unbelievable sense of shalom. That redemptive and life-giving justice is best lived when we find a way to move past cynicism and negativity and live with a hopefulness that allows us to embrace one another, forgive one another, heal one another, and love another.
It is Holy Week. And we know that we are journeying towards The life-giving miracle of Easter. We journey towards the light of an empty tomb. But we make that journey knowing full well that in order to arrive there; we must walk the dark valley of Good Friday. We make our journey to the empty tomb in the shadow of the cross. We can enter into the pain of the passion of Jesus Christ, and we can tolerate the cool air found in the shadow of the Tree because of the assurance that has been given to us in our baptism; we are signed with the sign of the cross and marked as Christ’s own forever.
So I pray we embrace the optimism that is inherent in our baptismal covenant. By virtue of our call to seek and serve Christ in all persons, we are a people of hope and optimism.
Because we are beloved by God, and called by God to love others we live in hope because darkness does not have the last say. These cool, damp, and dark days will give way to the light of the summer sun and the warmth that it brings. We are certain that Light and Love will win. No need to be pessimistic – we are soaked to the skin in love!