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Reflections from Rev. Emily Gage

What does it mean to be a people of Emergence?

            We like to think that there are four seasons--winter, spring, summer, and fall. And there are, of course. And we have set ideas about what each one is: snowy cold days, trees budding and flowers blooming, rays of sunshine, and leaves falling. But there’s also a lot of in between. It almost never happens that on the last day of winter we have two feet of snow on the ground and the next, the first day of spring, the flowers bloom and the birds sing. Instead, we spend a lot of our time wondering what season it really is. In that winter to spring transition, we spend days without jackets and then dig out our scarves again. The snow melts, then it rains, then it’s muddy, and then it freezes again, and then mud again. And so on. Sometimes it’s hard to be patient amidst all that change, especially when we are looking forward to what comes next. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that all that transition is rich with possibility.

            As the world around us begins to come alive in new and obvious ways-green shoots and buds, peeks of brilliant color, warm breezes, it’s a good reminder to us to let something new emerge in our spirits and in our lives. That phrasing is intentional: Let something emerge. Not make something emerge. Or emerge already! Living the theme of emergence requires a degree of holding back, not directing, but listening, paying attention, and letting yourself be open. Henri-Frederic Ariel suggest: “Let mystery have its place in you; do not always be turning up your whole soil with the plowshare of self-examination, but leave a little fallow corner in your heart ready for any seed the winds may bring, and reserve a nook of shadow for the passing bird; keep a place in your heart for the unexpected guests, an altar for an unknown God.”

            It’s around this time of year that I always think of the poem by Wendell Berry: Manifesto: the Mad Farmer’s liberation Front. To me, it captures the spirit of the springtime holidays of Easter and Passover, where horrible things happen and yet, still, we are hopeful, still we carry on when we might be defeated, still we try again, still we keep ourselves open to new possibilities. To me, that captures the spirit of emergence. Some of my favorite lines of this poem include: “So friends, every day do something that won’t compute. Love the Lord. Love the World. Work for nothing....Ask the questions that have no answers. Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias....Expect the end of the world. Laugh. Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful though you have considered all the facts...As soon as the generals and politicos can predict the motions of your mind, lose it. Leave it as a sign to mark the false trail, the way you didn’t go. Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary, some in the wrong direction. Practice resurrection.”

            This month, open your heart and mind and spirit to all the changes around you. Explore new ways of being or new ways of going about the routines of your day. Let this be a season to welcome the unexpected and unbidden. Who knows what may yet emerge? May we remind one another that our quest for truth and meaning is ongoing and may take us to places of which we have not even yet dared to dream.

Emily