The season of Epiphany continues and we are gently encouraged to pay attention these January days in this playful discourse between Nathaniel, Philip and Jesus In our Gospel reading today from John 1. 43-51 (Can anything good come out of Nazareth? well, Come and see!) The story moves quickly from the ordinary – sitting under a fig tree to the extraordinary, the Angels ascending and descending – a nod to the story of Jacob. The passage calls us to come and see, just as Nathaniel is encouraged to challenge his first statement, then Jesus, I saw you sitting there. He was noticed. It is no coincidence that we are reading passages during Epiphany which recognise Jesus as the Messiah. I wonder whether we are looking in the ordinary places and expecting a glimpse of the extraordinary? Are we looking this Epiphany for a glimpse of the Christ amongst us around us on in our natural environment perhaps. I wonder if we are able with everything else that is going on to look beyond the bad news. It was a sharp, crisp and clear morning the sky is streaked with gold and I know the light has come. It is a soft light at first as the Earth turns. Light clouds are immaculately turned out as if to welcome it, ruffled neatly in wave after wave of white on pale blue ready to be dispersed in a moment as the suns rays came upon them. The deep orange glow builds through the mountains illuminating, reflecting from cloud, lake and hillside. A hue Matched only by the oak and beach leaves that have stubbornly held on to their branches. It cannot be long before they finally fall this spring. As I run by a Tree Creeper seeks breakfast on one of their lakeside trunks. Across the lake a wistful mist rises as a lone swimmer cuts through the water ‘I am told’ it is around four degrees – she’ll not be in for long then. The swans leading last year’s signets have outdone her and are waiting for me as I arrive at the other end of the lake after what was for them a seemingly effortless journey. The light continues to brighten. A second light takes over now and as the orange glow fades and the earth turns on, a little ice clinging to the highest peaks as a plume of cloud springs up from their midst. The light is fuller encompassing all things as I return home through the trees. Only after all this does the sun itself make an appearance finally breaking the horizon and bringing a little warmth on its low January day. A bright morning helps to lift the spirits just as much as it helps to illuminate the day. An ordinary occurrence but truly extraordinary as well. Come and see. Here, today, we are anxious about our health and wellbeing and I wonder how much this stops us from seeing all this is going on around us as if nothing else mattered. The world is going about its business unmoved by our anxieties, they are typically human concerns. As we hear the discourse between Philip, Jesus and Nathaniel we see Jesus move the conversation on from the ordinary to the extraordinary, from the outward seeing – Philip’s invitation to Come and See which leads to Jesus’s own, that inner seeing ‘I saw you under the Fig Tree’ which is much more profound an inner seeing moving from the gentle jibing that the reading began with to the heavens opened. I wonder, where do we look, and what do we take notice of? Where do we see those glimpses of the extraordinary even in these days. Are we prepared to see both outwardly and inwardly for the extraordinary amidst the ordinary concerns of life. It is clear we are not done being taught a lesson by nature, neither are we done trying to work our own way out of it, yet we are still called to turn aside, to come and see in the ordinary moments which may just turn out to be quite extraordinary as we live through them.
High above the gloom of a valley
shrouded in the orange glow of neon
a misty halo surrounds an old light.
Captivating, white with its bright against
black skies no others dare invade
light enough for now. To lead.
She rises over the distant hill.
Drawing the wonder
Is it brighter on the other side?
The chasm between gapes
as she moves step by step
and we roll ever eastward
her path different.
Stars return to their place
so many, more than before.
She has gone her way
and I missed the chance to follow yet
like the skies that night I am brighter.
I carry her with me.
I was distracted from writing by an excellent few days, but I did pen this – almost as it was happening.
The course material started this train of thought, focusing on who we are…
There is a chapel atop a rocky outcrop near St. Beuno’s, the key to which is normally on the hook in the boot room, or so we were informed.
But the sign said something about a sticky lock and not to lock it.
I climbed the hill full of expectation about what the chapel might be like, the views, the nature on the way and was pleased to arrive at the chapel’s east end, a stone building, small and well formed. It stood waiting to be explored.
I investigated the door, it was locked – no way in.
I was in a little despair, what now?
I sat on the step looking away from the chapel, contemplating – writing!
The key arrives, my heart leaps, I can go in, but I can’t turn around, I can’t look, it has been built up to now it is too much.
Forcing myself up I turn and go in. I hate it.
It is full of tat, rubbish, too many trappings for God. An ugly tatty crucifix, incense sticks, prayer cards, statues, candles, modern art paintings, loud noisy clutter. I close my eyes to rid myself of the images and sink to my knees in silence.
I bow my head to the floor, it is cold, beautifully cold, the fresh stone makes me wish the whole chapel had been like that, plain cold stone, refreshing.
I kneel for what seems like ages before getting up and very quietly going out, (the nun is in silence)
As I step out of the door, the sound hits me, the light is too bright, the volume has been turned up fully, children, cows, birds, the wind, a horse. I heard it all inside the church of course, but dully as if through earmuffs, but now it is as bright as the sun. I am fully awake, alive to the sounds of God walking though the garden, waiting for me to emerge from the gloom to enliven me with the spirit.