Names and Wild Precious Lives (March 2021)
It’s been a tough winter. The pandemic has affected us all, many of us have lost friends and family. There has be the challenge of home schooling, working from home, the worry about our jobs or incomes and of course, as we cannot see family and friends, the experience of isolation and loneliness.
There is however a change in the air. Despite the cold days behind us, spring is certainly upon us. The days are longer, spring flowers are blossoming, and it will not be long before the trees will be in leaf. Many in the village have now had at least one dose of the vaccine and whilst we all need to continue with our care and vigilance, keeping ourselves, our families and friends, and our wider community safe from the virus, the prospects of life returning to normal is finally becoming a possibility.
In the last issue I talked about Nicola Slee’s excellent book, ‘Easter Garden’ in which the lives of Mary Lennox from ‘The Secret Garden’ and Mary Magdalene in the Gospels are woven together. The gardener in the Secret Garden says to Mary, after the long dark winter: ‘Springtime’s coming, cannot tha’ smell it?’ As Mary Lennox explores the empty wintry landscape of Misslethwaite Manor, something begins to change in her. Nicola writes that slowly, imperceptibly, a strange new summons to life stirs in her, born of the curiosity kindled by the tale of the secret garden. Even as she walks and is herself wakened, Mary’s walking in the places of the buried past and pain is itself a kind of waking of the past to newness again. It is as if, in her walking down the paths and the gardens, she is calling them to life again, opening doors and memories and places to the quickening movement of life pulsing in the wind, in the earth and the sun. She is waking a new world within her, calling it out of darkness and forgetfulness, inviting it to respond to the possibility of healing. For Mary Magdalen on Easter morning, against all hope, against all reason and expectation she encounters life in the garden. In the timeless, speechless, sudden short moment of meeting, of calling, of naming and recognition, Mary is restored to herself and to life. In that moment she is welcomed, known, healed, held, renewed, restored. Going back to the garden Rowan Williams says, ‘she finds her self, her home, her name’.
Another Mary, this time Mary Oliver writes: ‘Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life’? This season of Lent gives us the opportunity to reflect on this question. Where we have been, who we are and what we want to do with the opportunities before us and the time we have on this earth. It’s a time to seek the divine, to open ourselves to the possibility of resurrection, healing and change. Our beautiful church of St Wulfran’s is open daily, perhaps in thinking about all of this, you could take a short pilgrimage to the church, to see the spring flowers in the gardens and perhaps say a prayer in our blessed prayer chapel. When we stop to listen its amazing what we can hear and what becomes possible.
It would be great if you could join us over the Easter period and the dates for your diary are as follows. Our Easter celebrations start on the 1st of April with Maundy Thursday, the following day is Good Friday and culminate with the Easter Day service at 10am on the 4th of April.