Spirit and Life
When the landscapers cut back the huge woody shrub behind Serra Chapel a few months ago, I never thought it would grow back. But there it was yesterday as a co-worker and I walked past it. We both commented on the leaves – large and shiny, gushing from their stems. Clearly, photosynthesis was running at full throttle and the bush is back, healthy as ever.
How light becomes food for plants, I’ll never understand. Yet the process does help me understand how Jesus calls me to grow. In this week’s Gospel, he speaks of the power of God’s law. It’s not enough to adhere to it; I must absorb it, let it sink in, and allow it to change me. Writing to the Corinthians, St. Paul speaks of “God’s wisdom, mysterious, hidden…” The Spirit works within us, scrutinizing (synthesizing?), a movement set in motion by God “before the ages for our glory.”
When I think of the wise people I’ve known, I think of the changes and challenges they’ve endured and how they’ve remained open, not bitter but better, as a friar friend used to say. In my own life, circumstances – including mistakes I’ve inflicted on others, and myself – have pruned me, sometimes painfully. And yet, as a poet once wrote: The soul’s dark cottage batter’d and decay’d/lets in new light through chinks that time has made.
One way Franciscans learn the Gospel tradition is through conversations called “Spirit and Life.” The two go together. The Spirit humanizes life and vice versa – the whole process governed by the ultimate law of love. Growing back or growing at all requires my choice to love and trust. That may not be true for the bush by the chapel, but so far it’s really been true for me.
Fr. Dan ofm, Pastor