I said to the almond tree, “Sister, speak to me of God”.
And the almond tree blossomed.
This morning while out walking, I noticed that the first little pink peach blossoms had appeared. There they were, clustered on the tiny branch of an otherwise bare and rather scrappy little peach tree. But what joy they brought me – they spoke of aliveness. I once had such a tree in my own garden, right up against my bedroom window. It wasn’t much of a tree really and didn’t bear much fruit, but I did love that tree, for every year, way before any other signs of spring, that little tree would burst into bloom. This morning I thought of my tree and also of Francis of Assisi who, according to legend, called out to an almond tree in midwinter, “Sister, speak to me of God”! And at once the tree burst into bloom. It came alive. The only way to witness to God is by aliveness!
This is an ancient understanding. In the second century ce, Irenaeus, who was a bishop, said that the glory of God is a human being who is fully alive. There are certainly many different ways of understanding what it may mean to be fully alive and they would reflect different personality types too. And for each of us, this may shift as the years pass and we enter different stages of life with their opportunities and limitations. Each of us will have particular activities, experiences, work and relationships that we embrace and eagerly turn to because they do make us feel alive. But in its most real sense aliveness is about being awake, aware or enlightened. Anthony De Mello, who was a great Indian Jesuit spiritual teacher, said that “most people, even though they don’t know it, are asleep. They’re born asleep, they live asleep, they marry in their sleep, they die in their sleep. They never understand the loveliness, the beauty and the sacredness of this thing that we call human existence. What we need to do is wake up! Listen! Live! Be fully alive”! These are beautiful and profound words, this call to “the loveliness, the beauty and the sacredness of this thing that we call human existence”. But just how might we wake up?
Ms Kerry McCullough
Spirituality and Liturgy Coordinator