If you have stood on the quarterdeck of a ship cruising in a calm sea you will see the wake stretching out far behind you into the distance. You have left the shore where you have been living, working and playing and the wake stretched out behind the ship points you forward to the new venture and the new shore where you hope to land. For anyone emigrating from their home country it is also a sign that probably there is no way back now. It is the future that beckons - new people, new friends, new work.
It is certainly true of us here in the monastery. We are now looking forward to the end of April when we shall land on the new shore! But there will still be time to see the magnolia buds burst out for the last time for us in March. They are perhaps a symbol of the beauty that once captured by the sight will remain in the mind as a harbinger of the future already about to burst forth for us.
The extraordinary thing about the Christian gospels in their simplicity (apart from some rather obscure passages!) is that their authors had the intention of saying to their listeners, 'Your future is assured in the life of this man we are portraying, not because he is, like other good men, simply a model for life, but that he gave himself through death to the fulfilment of new life and now lives with us, and for the whole world, as Lord.'
Jesus is the living pointer to the future for everyone, and not only a pointer but he is also an enabling strength through the compassion he has always had for all. We read about this gracefulness in the gospels and it is true today as it was then. That's the extraordinary claim of Christian faith! As we leave the past behind us we are beckoned forward in daily life by the friendship of one who goes with us and lights up our way.