Friday, 15 December 2017

Clues to God’s love are all around us

SO autumn is well and truly upon us now and as we rise each morning and pull back the curtain,

SO autumn is well and truly upon us now and as we rise each morning and pull back the curtain, the words of the poet John Keats spring to mind, “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness”.

The poem, To Autumn, well known for its first line but perhaps not so familiar as it continues, ends with the following verse:

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they? Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,— While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day, And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue; Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn Among the river sallows, borne aloft Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies; And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn; Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft; And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Those words and the images they bring to mind speak so eloquently of that sense of loss that lingers at this time of the year.

Loss of the sun, loss of the season of growth and colour, perhaps a loss of time which can never be recovered, yet Keats reminds of the beauty of this time, this moment of which we are a part.

The rhythm of the words seems to elicit a kind of gentle joy and, to my mind, a call to thankfulness for the bounty and beauty of the world around us.

Joy is not the same as happiness; it’s something more profound and it seems to come from somewhere very deep within us.

We might experience joy when looking at a beautiful landscape; we might know it as part of our best and closest relationships. But it can also be found when we might least expect it and then it is a truly great gift.

Just as the seasons move on, there are points in our lives when we experience an inner shift and a change of rhythm; sometimes it is a loss of something or someone that initiates this.

Maybe Keats, in his poem, helps us to take in the moment, to recognise it for what it is but also to look for the joy that is offered to us in every waking moment, in every day throughout our lives.

There’s a verse in St John’s gospel where Jesus says: “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” (Chp15, v11).

Christ comes to us to show us the way to joy, not just when we are content and doing well, but at all times and in all places.

The clues to God’s love and provision for us are all around us. Poetry, art and other media can act as signposts but it’s God’s grace and generosity that opens us up to share in His joy. For that we can be truly thankful in every season.

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