Changed... and Yet the Same - Reflection by Canon Mike
Read Canon Mike's reflection for Tuesday, 17 November 2020.
I have always loved this time of year - I guess, though, I love something of all the different seasons. But Autumn perhaps brings out some of the best colours that nature has to offer. Although the picture above of the park nearest to where I live (Newsham Park) was taken recently and perhaps beyond the peak of the beautiful changes that one might see in nature at this time, it is still wonderful – to see the gorgeous colours of the leaves on the trees, to feel that slight nip in the air, to feel and hear the rustle of the fallen leaves under your feet. Nature is such a wonder of God’s creation, such a precious gift that at times (locally, nationally and internationally) we perhaps don’t fully appreciate – sometimes not until it may be too late and we may have lost something for good. The changes are always there; as the cycle of seasons go around, so do the changes – but never quite back to the same place. The leaves indeed may change colour and fall; the trees will ‘sleep’ through the cold of winter, and the spring will bring a renewal of fresh leaves, fresh life, fresh colour. What comes back in the cycle, though, is never quite the same as what was in the previous year….things have come back around, but to a different point, a unique point; the same and yet changed. But what is produced is still a tree, still something of great wonder and beauty, still a fabulous and necessary part of God’s creation – changed and yet the same.
When I was a student in Durham, my college was in a wonderful location slightly north east of the main city centre, along a long stretch of the River Wear – the College of St Hild and St Bede…shortened to ‘Hild Bede’ in student parlance! It was an amalgamation of two older colleges, originally Church of England teacher training institutes, founded in 1839 (St Bede) for men and later in 1858 (St Hild) for women. The amalgamation happened in 1975, and the college’s motto – in Latin Eadem Mutata Resurgo, translated “I rise again changed but the same”, was chosen to reflect the changes from the combination of colleges – but with the same aim and reputation as an educational institute of excellence. A few years later it became a full college of Durham University – changed and yet the same. I have many happy memories of my time there in the early eighties – not least of this particular time of year, autumn. Just like the beautiful trees in Newsham Park, the college was filled with them, which naturally and seamlessly blended eastward into Pelaw Woods along the river….so at this time of year, the blaze of colours was spectacular!
Change is so very much around us all the time – but so much so in our way of life through this pandemic. Our whole world has changed, because of something which actually is born out of the natural changes which underlie our very existence and God’s created order. And we must adapt and change with it – as we have seen throughout this year, in our response to the pandemic – from the small to the great, from the little things in helping others, to the acquired skills to connect and reach out online, to the looking to help and applaud, to the skills of those finding clinical solutions in record breaking timeframes. It is all change…..through sadness and joy; through adversity but also pain – pain for those who are lost in the meantime, and the struggle of those with the effects on the economy. The changes are incredible and hugely anxious for some – for whom we must try to stay the same through the change, by being constant with our prayers and finding ways to help.
Even as we have cycled back into another set of restrictions, changed again, yet we can remain hopeful and positive in the love of God…..something that never changes. It’s the same love which was manifest in the greatest act of outpouring, by sending his Son to be with us, be part of us, to minister to us, to teach and to heal us, to give his life for us, that he might rise and we might do the same in due time, to his heavenly kingdom…..where I suspect the colours are more beautiful than we could ever possibly imagine! Through everything, God’s love is yet the same; then, now, forever….the solid rock on which we can build back our homes, our hopes, our lives. Holding fast to the Cross of Christ, we will come through this period in our lives the same and yet changed; changed and yet the same – that we may continue to be and grow and develop as disciples of Christ. May the changes which are happening help us to be even stronger Christians…..working to be the same as our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; in his name.
With my love and prayers for you all, as always; take care….and go gently
Canon Mike 😊
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