NEW BEGINNINGS – by Chaplain, Grace Palmer
Since, we are living in rather strange times, I would like to talk about Easter before Good Friday and then perhaps make our way towards pancake day-Shrove Tuesday.
EASTER signifies new beginnings. Even the nature speaks of it. The daffodils, the crocuses and the nature wakes itself up from a long, blissful slumber and rest. Easter signifies above all else, HOPE. Hope is precious. I hold onto hope because it is one of the most precious commodities in life. But I have also realised hope is fluid. If I focus on the negatives, I find my hope slipping fast out of my grasp. And then before long, I find myself sinking and falling into a deep, dark pit of hopelessness, sadness, anxiety and more. So before I slip or fall, I keep my hands firmly around HOPE and keep my eyes focused on the positives that are around me. My garden is full of snowdrops and crocuses at the moment and the daffodils and hyacinths are just peeping their heads out of the soil ready to say hello again! It seems to me that they just cannot wait to open, blossom and shine again. I can almost hear them say “we have been dormant far too long, it is time to wake up again”. And then I thought to myself that these flowers do not wait for anything or anyone. They just bloom when it is their time. Nothing stops them from being themselves. I almost felt jealous!
We celebrate Easter because Jesus defied death and rose again on the third day. The day of his crucifixion is called Good Friday. Jesus died as a sacrificial lamb, for our sins so that today we do not need to offer sacrifices anymore. Jesus has already done that – he has opened the doorway for us to make peace with God if we put our faith in Him. Peace which gives hope and is free for all.
This pandemic has raised many questions of eternity, hell, heaven and death in peoples’ mind. There are so many people around us who are grieving today. Even as I write this, the figures are monumental. The media is full of stories of loss, death and despair. Many a time, I get asked where is the hope you talk about? Where is God in this? And the truth is… I do not have the answer. I felt the same and asked the same questions when my first husband passed away in the prime of his life.
As I reflect back, there is one thing though, that I am sure and certain of and that is peace, which I had even in the darkest period of my life. I could not see or feel Gods presence but His peace was always with me. This peace erupted hope in me. This hope then helped me to find joy in the little things of life, like the change of seasons, the flowers, sunrise, sunset and even in the continuity of night turning to day and the day turning to night. Everything pointed towards and reminded me of this wonderful creator God who was still perfectly in control, even though my world had fallen apart. I realised then that, if I wanted it, there was HOPE after all. All I had to do was look for it in the ordinary and the everyday things of life. I realised nothing had changed apart from myself. Snowdrops blossomed again, daffodils were on time and hyacinths, azaleas and rhododendrons followed suit. They kept my world going.
I believe there is always hope. Even in the darkest of nights there is always a star or two. Perhaps, now is the time for new beginnings, perhaps it is time to make a new start, start a new hobby, phone that long lost friend, do something that you have always wanted to do. I have learnt a great deal from flowers. They are always on time and nothing stops them from blooming – not even the beastly, beast from the east or the cold frost, incessant rain or even Mr Darcy the storm – they always bloom.
And, as I admire my flowers from my kitchen window, I have also started to check my kitchen cupboard for ingredients to make my pancakes for Pancake Day, called Shrove Tuesday. Traditionally, people tried to use up rich foods like eggs, milk and sugar before the fasting season of Lent which starts the very next day after Pancake Day. So then, dear folks, enjoy your pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, which this year falls on February the 16th, and keep blooming. The time is now and the season is now. This is indeed the time for new beginnings.