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All that is of the earth must return to the earth. For every human being there is a tomb. Is death an end or a new beginning? The world and nature speaks of death and rebirth. Every winter daylight wanes as the sun sets earlier and earlier. Eventually on the shortest day we see it, if at all, for a few brief hours. Such is the reality of our planetary life. However experience has taught us that, without fail, the days will gradually lengthen and the blossom of spring and the warmth of summer will return once more bringing us renewed hope and joy.

Nature shows us that change is inevitable and despair is unnecessary; that nothing remains the same forever, not even the darkest-seeming fate.

Spring already lies in the womb of winter when all feels lost and everything appears empty and lifeless. The challenge is to calmly wait the appointed hour of change knowing that it will come and that it cannot be forced. The caterpillar has its own unique timing to emerge as a butterfly. Grief too has its season. Discipleship demands patience knowing that nothing in the universe stands still, all is in movement, constantly changing and assuming new forms. It would be vanity to expect the present to persist and so it is foolish to resist change. In the words of the Lebanese poet Kahil Gibran, ‘It’s the lust for comfort that murders the passion of the soul and then walks grinning at the funeral.’ Life is only found at the edge of our comfort zone.

The awareness that change is inevitable and flowing with it rather than having it forced upon us is something that engenders freedom. This in turn gives rise to joy that is our natural state of being; it is the invincible summer that still exists even in the darkest winter. Joy is awakened through suffering, and underlies both happiness and sorrow alike.

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