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Inside/Out - Living in the In-Between

Early spring is an ambivalent time. Vestiges of winter can still appear – cold temperatures, icy streams, a late snowfall, bare trees, brown and seemingly lifeless fields. At the same time, signs of spring are here, too --- the sap is beginning to run, snow melt is causing rivers to swell, birds are belting out their courting melodies. ​​As much as we would like for spring to come quickly, nature will not be rushed. It is a model of patience. The flowers will bloom, the trees will leaf out, the frogs and turtles will pull themselves out of the muck where they have been hiding – but in their own time, in God’s time. In the meantime, we sit together in this in-between time, perhaps uncomfortably, but holding the promise of renewal and new life. In his letter to the Romans, Paul aptly describes this time of waiting for Easter. He says that all of creation is “groaning in anticipation” of its renewal, its reconciliation (Romans 8:19). Groaning because there is suffering and pain and the cross with which to deal. ​​Buddhist philosopher and activist Joanna Macy believes there is real danger in skipping over pain and suffering and grief, not to mention guilt, particularly in reference to the unraveling health of the planet. The truth is that our highly industrialized culture has created extraordinary, perhaps irreparable, harm to our planet. And, those least responsible for causing it are the ones who are suffering first and foremost – the poor and the vulnerable. Macy says that “(u)ntil we find ways of acknowledging and integrating that level of anguished awareness, we repress it; and with that repression we are drained of the energy we need for action and clear thinking.”

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