Thursday, December 10, 2009

Endings and New Beginnings

I love to get out for walks.  Always have.  And one particular route I often take is along the San Pablo Bay on a regional trail system.  When I come upon the "trail's end" sign it gives me pause, both literally and as an opportunity to reflect on endings and new beginnings in life.

The season of the church year when I am writing this meditation is Advent.  In the quirkiness of the church's liturgical calendar the end of the year has already happened and a new year begins with the four weeks of Advent that lead to the celebrations of the Christmas season.  This is also a time in nature's cycle when, in my part of the world, the days are shortening and the darkness is increasing.  Things are getting colder.  In Michigan, the land of my birth, much of the plant life has gone into dormancy for the winter and it looks pretty dead.  Endings are all around.  And yet, spiritual traditions often whisper of new life and hope.  Advent is such a time of anticipating new birth.

It seems that my life has seen many small endings, and new beginnings.  I expect that is also true for you.  Experience teaches that the end of one trail may open up the possibility for a new journey to begin, new territory to explore, new life to be lived.  But those times where endings are happening and new beginnings might not be clear yet is often touched with melancholy, darkness, unknowing, perhaps even disorientation or grief.  These are times where we are invited to live in hope...that life will emerge anew, and sometimes unexpectedly, beyond our control.

When Teresa of Avila, one of the great spiritual Doctors of the Church, died in 1582 there was found in her prayer book the following words which have become known as the "Bookmark Prayer."

Nada te turbe,
nada te espante;
todo se pasa,
Dios no se muda.
La pacientia todo lo alcanza.
Quien a Dios tiene nada la falta:
solo Dios basta.

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

Endings are bound to happen. Change is a constant in this life. But the love of God is everlasting and with that love is a creative energy that will not be thwarted.


Raisin said...

Nada te turbe, nada te espante...Dan, I recall your including these words on a bookmark or card inserted into the order of service on a day that you preached at SWTS. In our Taize community in Iowa City, we've been singing the chant that goes along with these words in this Advent season, when darkness comes upon the afternoons so early. Thanks for putting the song into my head once again.

Daniel said...

Thanks for your comment, Raisin. Yes I remember at Seabury we were celebrating Theresa at that Eucharist. The chant would be wonderful in a Taize community setting in Advent. I'd love to be there singing with you!

d.maria said...

Thank you for this space. I have just reread the meditation. It was food for my soul.I had wanted several times to sit with you and have a conversation. That never quite happened so this will be almost as good.

Daniel said...

Thanks, d.maria. I'm honored that you are reading these meditations. Peace.