Parallel Rhythms of Grace

Tinted orange and yellow is the sunlight
that pours through the stained-glass window webwork
of the countless gothic tree branches,
as God’s cosmic temple
celebrates the feast of autumn.

From Psalm of the Feast Of Autumn
Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim, by Edward Hayes

Dear People of St. David’s,

God’s cosmic temple is moving toward its ultimate splendor. Bushes are turning a vivid magenta; the trees show forth every shade from brilliant yellow to crimson. Some trees start their color from the top, even as the rest of the tree remains green. If you watch them over a few days, it might seem as if God dumped color over the tree, which seeps slowly down until all the leaves show forth their brilliant hues. And every morning, the late rising sun illuminates this cosmic temple from the bottom. The leaves, of course, are dying, ending their lives with a blaze of color.

The famous line from Ecclesiastes comes to mind,For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die,” and reminds us that we live simultaneously in many parallel rhythms. Fair volunteers have been in overdrive, formation programs have started up, acolytes have returned, and we begin to anticipate the highlights of the liturgical year with upcoming holidays. Just as our program year 2022-2023 gets underway, the natural world prepares to go dormant, even to die! Two parallel rhythms, going in opposite directions.

The Book of Common Prayer (p.858) says, “Grace is God’s favor towards us, unearned and undeserved; by grace God forgives our sins, enlightens our minds, stirs our hearts, and strengthens our wills.” These great, yet parallel rhythms in which we live and move and have our being are full of God’s grace: the energy of start-up enlightening our minds, the ending marked by fall colors, and everything in between. The dying leaves and plants which stir our hearts with their fading beauty are a part of this rhythm. From them new and different life will spring once again in a new season.

This past weekend I had a rare weekend off; an opportunity to share in the celebration of some friends I have known for fifty years. Friday evening was an opportunity for them to be honored at a gala for their considerable contributions to a local nonprofit, and Saturday was a landmark birthday party. The time away from my life at St. David’s and my personal life, all centered around Wayne, PA, reminded me of the parallel rhythms and other families to which I also belong. I am linked, as we all are, to a history with others that is rich and worth celebrating. These parallel rhythms remind us that the richness of relationships, especially the long-standing ones, are all going on at the same time as the ones to which we might be giving primary attention. They are God’s grace-full gifts, and always heart-stirring.

And so, I invite you to think of the friends you have not contacted in a while. They are part of these parallel rhythms which are living examples of God’s favor towards us. They mirror back to us the love and grace which God bestows upon us all. Take some time to enter one of your parallel rhythms. You will be delighted you made the effort and surprised to find your heart so stirred.

The Rev. Elizabeth W. Colton
Associate Rector




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