Spring

 

Spring for me is the most wonderful time of the year.  A little late you may say in the verdant, fertile plains of Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire, but up here in the Cambrian Mountains it is only during this last week, that the trees have really started bursting in to leaf and the grass begun to grow – and yes, the farmers are calling for rain!  The sun is gently warming the earth and the frosts are receding.

 

Spring is a time of new life.  Even up here, the majority of sheep have had their lambs, but not all.  The early spring flowers have gone to seed for another year, the daffodils are starting to look sad, but the bluebells and red campion are beginning to reveal their vibrant blue and red flowers, shining like jewels in the green grass.  Both the swallows and the cuckoo have arrived, and for me at least, it now feels like spring!

 

Much of the natural world enjoys an annual cycle, and we know that Summer will follow which will lead inevitably in to Autumn and then Winter, but with the knowledge that Spring will again bring renewed and refreshed life.  One of my favourite verses from the Bible for Holy Week in the run up to Good Friday is John 12.24:

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

Our understanding and experience of birth, life and re-birth is of general importance to our own lives, not only in the annual pattern of the natural world. 

 

The point is forcefully made in the Third Degree when we are raised from a figurative death to a reunion with the companions of our former toils.  This illustrative death is an incredibly powerful experience, perhaps the most powerful experience of all.  It is made so forcefully because we are encouraged to learn a very important lesson from it.

 

While we can see Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter in the context of our whole life, we have but one life cycle.  While trees and flowers may survive for hundreds of years, persevering through the annual cycle year after year, we have but one opportunity in this life.  There is of course no certainty that we will have the opportunity to experience each season in turn, but each season brings with it opportunities which may not be repeated.

 

In the Third Degree we are encouraged to make the most of the opportunities as and when they avail themselves to us.  What is there for the taking today, may not be there tomorrow.  As we progress our experience and ability develop, we do not remain static, sometimes we are able to do something which at other times we are unable to do.  It can be difficult to know what to do and what not to do, almost certainly we can’t do everything, so we have to be wise in our deliberations and not simply leave matters to chance.

 

Of course such an approach can enhance and enrich our own lives in many ways, but that is not the primary purpose, but rather to enhance and enrich the lives of our fellow creatures.  That mutually we may flourish and joyfully work together for the good of all.  Our time is limited, our abilities are limited, but that is the same for all of us.  The goal is to make the most of our time and ability.  To complete the work prepared for us in the time allotted to us.

 

We hear so much at the moment about the environmental disaster our world is facing, and it has become such a political issue.  Humanity is part of creation, and we have so much to learn from the natural world, often quite basic lessons which clever humans have forgotten!  If we accept the creation narratives in the Book of Genesis, either literally or allegorically, the inextricable link between our very being is clear, not to mention the ongoing relationship and interdependency between man and the remainder of creation.

 

Yes, of course we are born but once, and have but one life (or as some believe we can live but one life at a time) but there are so many ways in which we can be re-borne during our life.  Indeed it is not too great an assertion to say that we are re-borne as we rise in the Third Degree.  We certainly don’t only flower once in this life, rather we are encouraged to make our lives as beautiful as we can, that others may benefit from us in many different ways.

 

This great congregational hymn was written by William H Draper (1855-1933) one time vicar of Shrewsbury Abbey, however the words are based on St Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of Brother Sun.  He wrote those words in the winter of his life, in the Summer of 1225, when he was virtually blind and unable to tolerate daylight.  Yet that did not prevent him from seeing God’s glory in the whole of creation and praising God for his wonderful craftsmanship in day and night, Summer and Winter, life and death.

 

 

All creatures of our God and king,
lift up your voice and with us sing
Alleluia, alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam,
thou silver moon with softer gleam,
   O praise him, O praise him,
   Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

 

Thou rushing wind that art strong,
ye clouds that sail in heaven along,
O praise him, alleluia!
Thou rising morn in praise rejoice,
ye lights of evening find a voice;

 O praise him ...

 

Thou flowing water, pure and clear,
make music for thy Lord to hear,
Alleluia, alleluia!
Thou fire so masterful and bright
that givest man both warmth and light,

   O praise him ...

 

Dear mother earth, who day by day
unfoldest  blessings on our way,
O praise him, alleluia!
The flowers and fruits that in thee grow,
let them his glory also show;

   O praise him ...

 

And all ye men of tender heart,
forgiving others, take your part;
Alleluia, alleluia!
Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,
praise God and on him cast your care;

   O praise him ...

 

And thou, most kind and gentle death,
waiting to hush our latest breath,
O praise him, alleluia!
Thou leadest home the child of God,
and Christ our Lord the way hath trod;

   O praise him ...

 

Let all things their creator bless
and worship him in humbleness,
Alleluia, alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
and praise the Spirit, Three-in-One,

   O praise him ...

 

I offer this prayer:

Great Architect of the Universe, who hast filled the world with beauty: open our eyes we beseech the, to behold thy gracious hand in all thy works; that rejoicing in thy whole creation, we may learn to serve thee with gladness.  Amen.

 

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