Betwixt and Between

The spring sun shines particularly brightly, I think. Gone are the watery winter rays, transformed now into stronger and warmer beams of light. At different times of the day, they dance through the windows, highlighting every particle of dust. I suspect this is what lies behind the need to spring-clean. And the light! The longer daylight hours are calling us outdoors and into a different way of being with the world. We’re unwrapping the barbecues, cleaning the outdoor furniture, changing the doonas, pumping up the bike tyres—it’s time for new life.
And yet. One close look at a garden or a walk through the park reveals that this is a bit of a betwixt and between time. Just as the daffodils are fading and folding into themselves, the deciduous trees are starting their new phase of life. But even then, while some branches have leaves, some are just starting to bud. One side of a street has trees in full blossom, while on the other, the blossoms have already transformed into confetti. For months the bulbs and the trees have been doing their hidden work, recreating themselves for the season—and they are not all blooming at the same time.
We may sometimes feel that we’re living in a betwixt and between time. Something we have longed for may come to fruition but end up being mildly disappointing, forcing us to do more soul-searching. As one family member rejoices in a life event or achievement, another family member may be struggling with disappointment and heartache—why is it that we are not all happy at the same time? Young people who are entering the last days of their formal schooling look with eagerness and some anxiety towards the future, and with some sadness about what they are leaving behind. Why is happiness so elusive? A baby enters the world cradled in the arms of loving parents, and in another part of the hospital, loving arms are enfolding a person who is preparing for death.
Locally we enter into this spring season with the knowledge that drought is affecting much of the country. The global-village news cycle reminds us that people can inflict unimaginable violence (both verbal and physical) upon each other, that natural disasters can stop a whole city short and that there is a groundswell of stories of abuse that women (and men) have carried with them throughout their lives. And that’s before we bring to mind the local-village irritations of daily life: the traffic, the deadlines, the speed with which the days seem to spin by. And so it goes on, the inner working of each day.
Some of us may feel that we are in an in-between time in the church at the moment. As we work towards shaping the Plenary Council agenda, it can be frustrating for some. Others are finding it an anxious time—concerned that their views are not going to be represented, worried that the ‘wrong views’ will be listened to, or apprehensive about what lies ahead. And for others, there is a certain weariness: ‘Haven’t we been through all this before?’
So it is at times like this, I think, that we can look to spring for inspiration. Spring shows us that everything blossoms in its own time, at its own pace and after the necessary work has been done.
As the glory of God unfolds in creation, so the Spirit is moving in our lives and in the church. And we can have confidence in this because the pattern of the Christian day is one of the ongoing unfolding of the paschal mystery—from which life always emerges.
Our task, perhaps, is to learn how to live with hope in the in-between times, because much of our life is spent here. These are our hoping, dreaming, struggling, one-foot-after-another everyday times. John O’Donohue, the Irish poet and writer, had a sense of this when he wrote about the holiness of each day:

We seldom notice how each day is a holy place.
Where the eucharist of the ordinary happens.

In this worldview, the events of our lives are transformed from the ordinary into the extraordinary because God is present—in all the times.
So let us take into our hearts a spring spirit! Let us embrace our in-between times as holy times, confident that the necessary work will lead to new life. And may we, through our lives and by our prayers, continue to work to build the reign of God.

Cathy Jenkins

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