A Strange Rhythm
“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12:24)
I remember when I was young I heard the story of the two ants. As the story goes, the first ant during the heat of summer spent his time working and gathering food. This was because, even though this ant couldn’t see winter with his own eyes, he knew that it was approaching; so, he prepared for it.
There was however a second ant who lacked such foresight. During the summer months, this ant spent the time enjoying himself. I remember from the children’s book, that this ant was taken to sunbathing in the summer months.
The twist in the story happens when winter approaches, and the second ant has no food out of which to weather the storm. The second ant suffers out in the cold. The first ant however, because he had sacrificed all summer, sat securely and safely during the winter months, and from what I remember, enjoyed a cool cup of cocoa reclining next to the fire of his living room.
It’s a funny story, with a very strange rhythm. Summers are meant to be enjoyed are they not? But exactly the opposite seems to happen in the story. The first ant works during the time when most rest.
This strange rhythm, seems to be one of those fundamental patterns “seeped into the bones” of Christian thought. It is this type of thinking, which Paul seems to refer to when he calls the wisdom of the world a sort of folly (1 Corinthians 3:19). For example, when the world tells us to love our lives, Christ says “Anyone who loves their life will lose it…”(John 12:25). Where the world emphasizes strength, Christ emphasizes meekness (Matthew 5:5). Finally, when the world would emphasize life, Christ would speak about that little grain of wheat which must die (John 12:24).
But of course this is only part of the picture. For though we may hate our lives as the Gospel says, we know that there is no greater joy than to serve the gospel. And though we may emphasize meekness, we know the strength that is found when we rely on God’s grace. And though the grain of wheat dies, we know that it produces an abundance of life. it is this strange rhythm that leads us once again to a deeper joy, strength, and life.
Hence, let us ask for the grace to remember this strange rhythm this coming lent. This strange tempo that is manifested in our fasting, depriving our bodies of food. This same pattern, found in the ashes that symbolize where we came from and where we are going. This same tempo, found in the sadness of Holy week. We know that all of it will lead again to life, all in that strange rhythm.