Learn a lesson from the fig tree.
When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves,
you know that summer is near. ~ Mark 13:28
As we near the end of the Church’s liturgical year, the scripture readings for Mass are decidedly more eschatological in their tone. Given what is in the news these days, one has to wonder if the “final times” are indeed upon us.
Perhaps it is no coincidence that these ominous scripture readings also come to us during late autumn. Golden, orange, and red leaves have long since fallen to the earth, beckoning us to venture forward into our own future of surrender. Bare branches dare to reach out nakedly, proudly, defiantly, as if their wisdom of surrender and of endings is too marvelous to keep shyly to themselves.
Some trees stretch upward toward the sun, proclaiming with Albert Camus: “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” Other trees bend low, arching back down toward the earth to whisper the wisdom of Julian of Norwich to discouraged passersby: “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.”
Yes, the end of another liturgical year, and soon another calendar year, are upon us. Maybe these endings are symbolically coded beginnings, though. Maybe they reveal that we can leave behind past failings and disappointments with forgiveness and compassion, looking toward a new beginning and a future filled with hope. Maybe they remind us that during every moment of the coming year God will be whispering to us:
“The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made…
See, I am doing something new!
Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Jer. 33:14, Is. 43:19)
Sister Ann Marie Wainright
Sister Ann Marie Wainright is a Benedictine Sister of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. Originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, she worked as a CPA for many years before earning dual masters degrees in counseling and pastoral studies. Sister Ann Marie is interested how people encounter God in their daily lives and how they use their faith and spirituality in meeting difficult challenges.
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