Every Time There’s A Season: Praying Through Life’s Changes
by the Reverend Noel E. Bordador
They asked him, ‘Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?’ 8And he said, ‘Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, “I am he!”* and, “The time is near!”* Do not go after them.
9 ‘When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.’ 10Then he said to them, ‘Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven…
18But not a hair of your head will perish. 19By your endurance you will gain your souls. (Luke 21)
In the middle of this season of Autumn, things around us remind me of change and loss. The long warm days of summer are long and gone, giving way to the shorter and cold days of Fall and soon, Winter. Foliage has changed- green leaves giving way to yellow or decaying brown leaves, and many a trees have shed theirs so that none remains. The flowering life of Spring and Summer is giving way to the infertility of winter. And there is none we can do about it. We are at the mercy of life's cycle of birth and death.
I find that the seasons are a metaphor of life. There's always something being born, there's always something dying in us and around us. Things are always changing. We are at the mercy of change. We are at the mercy of life's cycle of birth and death.
Sometimes change in life can be very positive, and at other times, change can be experienced as something that shatters our sense of security or hope. An experience of a serious illness, the loss of health, a death of a loved one, the loss of a job, or the death of a long-term relationship could make us all feel as if our world is ending. Recently, I’ve been personally confronted with this. My aunt, who is my second mother, has been diagnosed with cancer, and we’re bracing ourselves for this greatest challenge of her life. The loss of her health, and the real possibility of the loss of her life has driven home to us the fragility of our life, that life here has an end, and so all the more we need to realize to care and nurture our relationships above all else in life. Experience of loss and change- whatever it might be- we cannot help but feel that something is us or something in our life is, metaphorically speaking, dying. The end of the world, so to speak, the end of the world as we know it.
The Gospel passage from Luke conjures images of the end of the world. In the Gospel, Jesus speaks of the changes in the world of his time and the experience of those changes made it seem that the world was coming to an end.
Yet, despite the terrifying images of the world’s end in the Gospel today, there is also a reassurance, a promise of Jesus. And the promise is this. In the turbulent moments of life, when our own “world” seemed to be ending, we are, nevertheless, in the arms of God himself. Jesus says, “[N]ot a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.” God is always standing by even as we experience the great tribulations of our lives, even in those times when our world seemed falling apart.
So in the face of change or loss, when the sands below our feet seemed shifting, we ground ourselves in no other than God. We are called by the Gospel, we are challenged by the Gospel to fix our hopes ultimately in that Unchanging Reality we call God. As things around us changes and passes away, God never changes, God never passes away. So our rock, our fortress, our protection in the storms of life is God himself. I want to conclude with verses I carry with me in my Prayer Book, written by the sixteenth century mystic, Teresa de Jesus. In this verse, Teresa says that the soul alone can endure the arrows and slings, the vicissitudes of life by fixing itself on God alone:
nothing disturb you;
Nothing frighten you.
All things are passing.
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Nothing is wanting to him
who possesses God.
God alone suffices.
2008 Noel E. Bordador
Noel Bordador is a gay Filipino priest in the Episcopal Diocese of New York.
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