John speaks today of a new heaven and a new earth. The one on the throne says, See, I am making all things new. That newness is offered to the earth and to all of us. The new life comes to the earth as part of the cycles of the seasons.
The newness for each of us requires our own work – entry into the seasons of our faith traditions (especially Easter), and our own commitment to interior growth, spiritual connections with God and with one another. This month of May is filled with signs of new life in this part of the planet, both around us and within us.
Spring is breaking out all over. I am privileged to live on 21 acres, on a property adjacent to conservation areas. The view from my window includes mature trees and shrubs. The lilac bushes have leaves and will soon have buds. Even the daffodils and lowly dandelion flowers are a reminder of newness. I catch sight of plenty of birds and occasionally wild animals such as deer and a healthy-looking fox. Squirrels seem to thrive here. Just this morning I watched a skunk digging for grubs.
I also watch people setting off for a hike on the pathway at the edge of our property. I notice how excited the dogs become when they are let off their leash. Cees and Kyle, our landscaping team, are clearing up the branches that fell during the winter. Brother Paul is cleaning up the flower beds, It’s definitely spring.
t’s also spring for people who live or visit this place. A weekend retreat is in progress at Manresa Retreat House and I am halfway through accompanying two seminarians through the thirty-days Spiritual Exercises. I have my usual assortment of individuals for spiritual direction, including a woman who comes here each Saturday for a day of retreat. She can’t afford to skip her work during the week, so she is doing a retreat in daily life, spread over a few months.
She is also searching for new life. She is in her sixties, but is realizing a new vocation in her life. Newness! Even at sixty-six, she knows the need for a new way of living. The quest for a balanced spiritual life and a deeper relationship with the Lord is being nourished.
Rene Goupil House, our Jesuit infirmary, also shares this property. Despite the Jesuit priests and brothers being aged and infirmed, there are many signs of new life. Guys emerging from isolation for infections. Others getting positive news from diagnostic tests. Men being able to hear in a new way, because of new hearing aids. Jesuits from other communities staying for respite care.
New members of the staff who bring renewal and new energy. The needed renovations to the building are nearing their completion and the place feels fresh and renewed.
A new heaven and new earth are offered to each of us in this season of Easter. How do you experience it?