- Fr. John Jennings
An Easter Reflection
In place of Fr. John's regular weekly reflection, he has asked us to use the following from Stuart Kinney, a parishioner from St. John the Baptist Parish (St. Gertrude's Church) Woodstock, NB.
It’s Easter and spring, in New Brunswick at least, lies waiting under the patina of late snow, soon to melt under the force of the ever-strengthening April sun. The Lenten season, with all of its attendant possibility for reading and reflection, has ended, offering this year both greater opportunity and additional cause for these activities. The pandemic isolation has afforded extra impetus for turning inward, attending to the interests of the heart, the mind, the soul.
Among the many things this inward turning has offered me has been a renewed consideration of a metaphor for dealing with periods of uncertain transition, for attenuating anxiety, for coping in the face great changes which life may thrust upon us. My readings these past weeks have presented to me, in several ways, a conceit long relied upon by poets, philosophers, indeed by all manner of creative writers, namely that of the midwife.
I profess no particular understanding of the art of midwifery, rather only a general sense of the skill and knowledge that the practitioner brings to bear on a moment – childbirth - which, while natural, inevitable, even manageable, involves, just the same, a physical challenge (it’s called labour after all!) for the participants as well as those of an emotional and psychological or spiritual character. The entire process is about change and the midwife is there to aid the process, to assuage the anxiety, calm the fear, to abide in a moment, to help usher in an utterly new state of being.
The midwife is a potent metaphor for our present circumstance, the experience of which is virtually without precedent for all of us and which, therefore, has the capacity to create anxiety, to unnerve even the most stalwart among us, to cause our spirits to flag. The horror nature can inflict, our discovery of the banality of much of what passes for life, the sudden retreat from the comfortable, the familiar – it’s all just so unsettling.
We need a midwife to see us through this challenging moment, to help us with the pangs of our labour, to ease us through the wholly uncertain transition, to give us repose, to aid us in finding the center of our being, our truth. We need to be reminded, to be shown, that in the secret of our hearts, wisdom comes to us through the course of events, through all of our experience of the unknown, by our passage through the myriad events which unfold in front of us, of which this particular pandemic is especially portentous.
The world is forever pregnant with possibility for wisdom and beauty to be midwived into our hearts, for our equilibrium to be restored, for grace to be visited upon us, for truth to be known, for love to be revealed. All manner of midwives are waiting to offer us comfort and succour, to guide us through this perilous moment, to help us avoid despair, to see the goodness, the possibility our lives offer, to understand our destiny as humans, our reason for being.
This moment is a call to renew our relationship with our favourite midwife whether musical, literary or visual, to feel again like something new has been born, that we have managed successfully another moment of transition and have arrived, emotionally, spiritually, even just for today, on that other shore toward which we have been voyaging.
For Easter, then, a small offering of something to midwife you to a moment of heightened appreciation for all that is good in the world. Here’s the renowned trumpeter Chris Botti, accompanied by the Boston Pops Orchestra, performing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”
Happy Easter to all.