Perhaps what was lurking behind yesterday's photos of the intermingling of new life and old was not so much an unrealized metaphor as a connection waiting to be encountered.
This morning I received an email from a Mennonite spiritual directors group I belong to, notifying us of the death this past week of two of our members. I didn't know either Will Streeter or Jane Friesen, though I have friends that did. Both died of cancer, in their 40's/50's. I have the phrase from the Book of Common Prayer running through my head: In the midst of life we are in death....
New life, and old, death, and new life.
This weekend I decided to use Open the Door, by Joyce Rupp, as a resource for this transition time of Eastertide. And this story from her Introduction, read this morning, feels like the connection that was waiting in the wings, both for yesterday's photos and for this morning's news.
I sat on the doorstep of my porch, talking on the phone, listening to a newly widowed friend speak of her severe sorrow. In between wrenching tears, she poured out her struggle of attempting to re-engage with a life that no longer included her beloved husband. As I gave full attention to my grieving friend, a young, sleek deer emerged from the woods and stood like a sentinel on the front lawn. At the same time, the tiny lights of fireflies began twinkling in the night air. I felt caught between two contrasting worlds: the sharp pain in my friend's heart and the alluring beauty of the natural world.
Between these two opposites, something unidentified nudged me to pay attention. I let the disparity be there until the phone conversation ended. Then I continued to sit silently on the doorstep, pondering the enticing scene, wondering what stirred inside of me. This movement opened the door to my inner self and led me to look at the part that always wants life to be fair. I recognized my strong desire to relieve my friend of her heartache. At the same time, I also trusted she was in a "growing place" and eventually would be less pained from her loss.
From this pause of reflection, I glimpsed divine presence in both areas: a Compassionate Companion embracing hurting ones and a Generous Creator continually revealing abundant splendor. The deer and the fireflies assured me that beauty remains present in the midst of life's turmoil. That evening the door of my heart provided a passageway to gratitude for enduring beauty and a reminder to trust God's strength to be there, especially when the harshness of life shows its face. Joyce Rupp, Open the Door, pp, 16 - 17
Holding this awareness of the Compassionate Companion and the Generous Creator, the intermingling of beauty and hard times, I'll keep looking for those images of spring beauty.
My approach to contemplative photography --
Tell about it."
Mary Oliver in "Sometimes"