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Friar’s E-Spirations: New Life

It was a long, cold winter for many of us. It’s true that the plentiful snow blanketing our yards and fields for those months had a beauty and splendor all its own. And the bare tree limbs outlined against the sky showed their full grace. But what a joy it is to see a daffodil poking through the earth, buds coming from dry branches, and greenery adorning those bare limbs!

Where does this new life come from? Botanists explain hidden seeds and bulbs and sap deep in trees. But my soul yearns for more. Let me hear from St. Francis his praise to the “Most High, all-powerful, good Lord.” Give me his eyes to appreciate the new life springing from our sister, Mother Earth, by the light and warm rays of Brother Sun. Like Francis, let me praise God in nature and also embrace him on the cross. Don’t let me hurry through spring without noticing—without stopping in awe.

God’s Grandeur

Gerard Manley Hopkins captured the faith view that I want in his poem “God’s Grandeur.” “The world is charged with the grandeur of God. . . . Nature is never spent; there lives the dearest freshness deep down things. . . .”

In her book Poetry as Prayer: Gerard Manley Hopkins, Maria Lichtmann quotes from his spiritual notes: “All things therefore are charged with love, are charged with God, and if we know how to touch them, give off sparks and take fire, yield drops and flow, ring and tell of him.”

Hopkins knew “how to touch” them and how to see God’s presence. As a youth, “he loved to climb to the top of tall trees and enjoy the view.” He could spend hours fascinated by an ant hill or studying the ice crystals in a puddle of water on cold mornings. He also knew dryness, frustration, rejection, and depression as his “terrible sonnets” reveal. “Send my roots rain,” he pleaded in his poem. “Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contend with Thee.”

Like St. Francis, he lived the Paschal mystery.

Eternal Spring

Budding blossoms from dry, bare branches is our background for celebrating the Paschal mystery. The bruised and beaten body of Jesus hung on the cross and lay dead in the tomb for three days. But Jesus joyously rose, peace-giving, forgiving, bestowing new life on our tired world.

Easter is not only a past event. The risen Jesus shared his new life with his disciples and is now sharing his risen life with us. St. Paul says; “Just as Christ was raised from the dead . . . we too [through faith and Baptism] live in newness of life.” We are united with him in the resurrection. We are transformed. “To be in Christ,” Paul told the Corinthians, “means being a completely new creature.”

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI called Jesus’ resurrection “the inbreaking of a new world. . . . It opens up a new kind of future for the human family—a future of living with God forever.”

We could say “an eternal spring” exists where God’s life and love prevail. Easter-spring makes me stop in awe.

Dear Friar Jim: Thank you for pointing out the positive aspects of worrying. As you pointed out to us, it reveals our concern and love for one another. It also reminds us that God is always with us when we worry. Patty

A: Dear Patty: You are right—worry is concern and not a lack of faith. Friar Jim

Dear Friar Jim: Thank you for this. I am sharing with some friends who worry a lot! Sandy

A: Dear Sandy: Thanks for sharing the “good news.” More people need to hear it. Friar Jim

Dear Friar Jim: Thank you for your E-spiration. I, too, thought that worry was a sin. I worry constantly over my son who is living with me and has been unemployed for almost two years. He also lost his home. Your article has helped me immensely. Thank you again. It gives me the hope that my prayers for him are all good. Dina

A: Dear Dina: Isn’t it good to know that even Mary worried about her son, Jesus? That seems part of the vocation of mothers. Worry only shows you love those special people in your life. Friar Jim

Dear Friar Jim: What a wonderful E-spiration! I worry about the world, war, climate change, my children, their children. Your wonderful text calmed my mind. Many thanks! Joseph

A: Dear Joseph: You can worry and still be very faithful. Worry means concern, and that word comes from two Latin words which mean “to be mixed with.” We worry because our lives are mixed with those of our loved ones. Friar Jim