All Saints and Acorns

autumn-leavesIn today’s Gospel reading (Luke 20. 27-38)  Jesus is asked a complicated question about life, death, marriage and eternity.  At least one of those has a little certainty about it!  In reading this passage, the phrase, “Any fool can make things complicated…” comes to mind.  But Jesus doesn’t.  He makes it simple.  So in the light of Jesus making the supposedly complex rather more simple, I’m left wondering where the idea came from to dictate to Roman Catholic church members what they can and can’t do with their loved ones ashes.  It was, we are told, in order to guard against natural theologies…  But to me there is nothing more natural than life and death.  Will we ever learn?   In the manner of making things simple, someone once told me they suggested to their wife that a particular tree in the garden was a ‘wood tree’.  This innocent piece of information lay undisturbed for some time until a visitor to their home asked the whereabouts of an item of garden furniture.  ‘Under the wood tree’ came the reply…  So much for simplicity, however, the wood trees are shedding their load around us creating the colourful carpet we all know and love during autumn.  This is of course simply part of the yearly ritual of the passing seasons and is no more remarkable than the re-emergence of the shoots and buds in the spring.  The falling leaves are dying, the tree has no longer any use for them and must shed them before the new growth.  The beginning and the end are for the tree, and for us I would suggest, in the same place.  Chicken and egg you might say.  The journey flows around and eventually you end up where you started, where you came from.  Ultimately of course, in the dust.  For leaves, trees, even wood trees, all life in fact, dying brings about new life.  The dead leaves are not completely without life for they still contain a great potential.  In order to release that potential, they must fall to the ground and be composted into the earth where their nutrients can be taken up by the very same trees that they fell from.  We can attempt to stop these things from happening, slow the passage from death to life and back again, but ultimately we are bound to the earth in a continuous cycle of regeneration.  When we do succeed in interrupting these natural rhythms little good comes of it.  Jesus tells those who question him that the Kingdom of God is one of the living.  There is no need to create complex theories to attempt to understand something beyond our comprehension.  The kingdom is here, now, ahead of us and behind us.  All of life is caught up in it in a continuous cycle.  Our task is to recognise it, to get involved and not to put obstacles in the path of others who might see it too.  From acorns, the potential is there to grow into the stately trees of our wood.  From humble beginnings we grow and with the right nourishment in our time become with the saints of God.

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