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Soaking in the Sun
and Bending
to the Breeze

The Silver Birch trees at the roadside edge of my small garden, planted by former tenants, have put on their new Spring dress, and are today bending and dancing with leaves scintillating in the Southerly breeze which has fortunately, in the past few days, replaced the all too bracing Northerly winds. Spring is a sort of magical time in a temperate climate when the flora 'come to life' again. Perhaps it is because we humans cannot emulate the natural processes, at least not quite so regularly! We get bogged down in cults of order, necessity and disinterestedness. All for the best of reasons, of course.

But history tells us that there are times when there is no option but to take on new ideas and to put on new clothes. To let new energy inspire us and to let ourselves be 'bent' by the winds of change. In the 16th-19th centuries the lever of change often came about by the settling of antagonisms between traditionalists and reformists in church and state by physical force or legal ostracism. Looking back today it is easier to see that striving for an order of uniformity, of a unity that 'fixes' all dissent is not the natural revitalising of vision and truth. We require the 'warmth' of human appreciation of 'difference' and the spirit that blows where it lists to set us dancing.

After four centuries and more of separation between Christians - the Orthodox church became separated in the 11th century - it is perhaps more apparent now than at any other time that Christianity cannot be wrapped up in a global, institutionalised, ecclesiastical establishment. We have all been locked up in the logical determinism of our own traditions, often through querks of history. 'Unity', as the Johannine Christ prays, 'Father ...that they may be one... I in them and you in me', is most plausibly about being open to the spirit of truth and love. We are not called to be a 'second force' in the world but to be among our fellow beings as Christ is, in one world.

Perhaps we are at a turning point in history when we can see more clearly that to be open to the warmth of the new energy of the spirit, renewing us for the dance of life in this world, is to find true freedom. So Paul wrote to the Corinthians,

'Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.'

© Aelred Arnesen

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