Greening our soulsPublished 9:26am Thursday, August 1, 2013
By Rev. Bob Henderson
We hear a lot about “greening” these days – doing things to help the environment. One of the “greenest” things I’ve seen (even though it has little to do with the environment) is those terra cotta figures you can buy on TV.
They start out as plain terra cotta, but when you water them, they almost instantly grow grassy, green plants that become hair or clothes or just designs on the various figures. I’ve seen a Garfield, a Homer Simpson, and other, not so famous heads or figures.
That’s how I like to think of what happens to us during this long “Green Season” from Pentecost to Advent.
During the first “half” of the Christian Year – Advent through Pentecost – we are “busy” considering the mighty acts of God in the life of Jesus: preparation for his birth (Advent), the Nativity (Christmas), the manifestation of the Christ to the Gentiles (Epiphany), time in the wilderness (of our sin) in preparation for Jesus’ death (Lent), his death and resurrection (Holy Week and Easter) and the coming of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost).
While each of these seasons and their themes tell us much about God and our relationship to God, the seasons go by so quickly and actively, that we often have little time to consider how to incorporate those themes into our lives.
The season of Pentecost is the time for that incorporation; a time to water, nurture and cultivate our souls and spirits with what we have discerned from hearing the great themes of the first half of the Christian Year.
Yet, in order to “grow” our spirituality, we must have some idea about what spirituality is. Because there are many different ways to explain or define spirituality, it’s not surprising to hear people ask: “What is spirituality?” or “What Spirituality does Jesus offer?” or “Why do I need it?”
I would say, first, that Jesus offers no spirituality. God, through the Grace of Jesus Christ, offers us forgiveness, hope, joy, peace, grace and love. Spirituality is the way in which we appropriate that forgiveness, hope, joy, peace, grace and love into our lives, and making them part of who and what we are – growing and greening our souls.
Why do we need to “green” our souls? No matter how we live or what we do, we need God. Sometimes God feels very close and near. Other times God feels distant or absent.
Growing spiritually helps us learn to feel or recognize the presence of God in our lives. That helps us to become more “Christ like,” more holy, as it becomes easier to appropriate and incorporate God’s forgiveness, hope, joy, peace, grace and love into our spirits and our lives.
Our souls continue to expand as our spirits envelope God’s presence with us. The “green” of God covers our souls and spirits like that grass covers the terra cotta Garfield.
As we continue this “green, growing” season, why not take a little time to contemplate God, God’s work in Jesus and how to go about appropriating some of what God offers us. We can then “water” our soul in God’s goodness, and cultivate God’s “green” to cover and soothe the rough terra cotta of our sometimes bleak, hurt and suffering lives..
The Rev. Bob Henderson is rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Wetumpka.