To begin again.

(photo taken in the backyard with an iPhone)

(photo taken in the backyard with an iPhone)

In my back yard, there are four sago palms that the previous owner for some reason planted together in a very tight space. Periodically the heavy fronds must be cut back at the base. It is not possible to do this without getting stuck a few times. What amazes me is what is found underneath the heavy, dark leaves, planks of palm that are so dense and angry-looking they are sure to smother whatever happens to be in their way.

Underneath the heavy lethargic growth are light green stalks, curled into themselves as they patiently wait for the way to be made clear. Just two or three days after the old growth is cut away, they shoot straight up, these tightly wrapped fuzzy green stalks. And then, a day or two later, they begin to unfurl. I have never noticed what an amazing dance this is. For the first time, I was able to see these perfect, curly-cues of new life unwrap their fingers and reach tentatively into space.

Apparently, I needed to see this, this year. To know that underneath the tired heavy fronds of my Self, there is new life patiently waiting for the opportunity to burst forth. I need only become willing to let go of the familiar, long-held way of being and doing.

Earlier today, as part of a weekly centering prayer group at a local shelter, we read a brief excerpt from John Main. I do not have the book with me now but the gist of the reading was this: our greatest gift is the reality that we are designed to begin again. Each time we turn to notice a new thing in the midst of the familiar or the routine, each time we think God or help or thanks, we begin again. This dance of life is a dance that is meant to be repeated, to show forth God’s glory again and again.

Some complain that the liturgies of the Episcopal Church — our practices in worship — are repetitive or redundant. But if we come with open minds and hearts, acknowledging our hunger and thirst, then we have the chance to experience and participate in something new, something fresh, something life-giving that frees us to begin again.

About Mother Beth Tjoflat

Episcopal priest, urban contemplative, playwright, lover of hounds, American of Chilean-Norwegian-Moravian descent. Interests include transformational ministry with the forgotten and marginalized; church planting and congregational development; 12-step spirituality; Hispanic ministry; radical hospitality, and spending time with dear friends.
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