St. John's Monastery
Spring has been unusually long and cool this year. Looking out the window as I write this, I see green grass and flowers everywhere. The wet, temperate weather has brought us a season to be remembered. Two weeks ago, on the feast of the Ascension, I wandered through the monastery forest, taking pictures of the wildflowers. Everything is beautiful, and I feel sometimes feel unworthy of this wonderful place we call earth.
Not many weeks from now, the grasses will produce their seed and die. The flowers will soon fade and disappear. All the vegetative under-story will take on a straw-yellow color, characteristic of a California summer. The conclusion seems unavoidable: life follows death, the sunrise of Spring is replaced by twilight and the darkness of night.
As I watch my loved ones age and approach death, I am reminded that I, too, am mortal. I can't help asking, "Why?". Why does Spring end? Why is flower of youth so quickly followed by decline, sickness, and death? Why must my life end when it seems to have only just begun? Are we to believe, as the famous Greek philosopher Plato taught, that life in this world is transient? Are we really just part of an eternal cyclical process? Are we forever confined to this world of change? In a word, no.
The Preacher wrote: "He has made everything beautiful in its time; also he has put eternity into man’s mind, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end" (Eccl. 3:11). To me, these words mean that we are supposed to see that we were meant for eternity. We were supposed to sense the dissonance of our transient life and the yearning silent conviction of life without end. Death is not natural. Body and soul, we are destined to live forever. The seasons of Pascha and Pentecost are strong reminders that God's ultimate purpose is the restoration of Paradise. This restoration must begin in our repentance. Perhaps that is why we live here and now in a world of transience, where, by God's grace there is a possibility for change.