Yesterday was one of those beautiful spring days that almost everyone I encountered commented on as “perfect!” The sunshine – not too hot but just enough to give a warm feeling inside and out – the scent of flowering trees on the breeze, a beautiful sunset and the brightness of the moon at the close of our meeting…everything conspired to create sense of hope and lightness of being. And then there were the deep conversations about what is right with the world and how we might continue efforts toward unity. It’s so much easier to see possibility on spring days like that.
In the reading from the Acts of the Apostles this morning (Ch. 22-23), Paul is having the opposite experience before the Sanhedrin as they try to determine charges against him. The line that gave me pause has Paul crying out, “I am on trial for hope in the resurrection of the dead!” That reminded me of the question often asked in religious education classes: “If you were on trial for your faith in God, would you tell the truth?” I mused that it would be easier to stand fast on a beautiful day like yesterday with friends around to support my beliefs. But who knows? Paul was released on that day, but lived only to be tried and eventually put to death in Rome for his preaching and his beliefs. His courage was obviously a constant companion regardless of circumstance.
You might see my thought process as a bit of a stretch from the possibilities engendered by a lovely day to Paul’s hope and courage, but an early page in John O’Donohue’s book, Beauty, makes the case, I think, for what I was trying to say. See if you agree.
When we expect and engage the Beautiful, a new fluency is set free within us and between us. The heart becomes rekindled and our lives brighten with unexpected courage. It is courage that restores hope to the heart. In our day to day lives, we often show courage without realizing it. However, it is only when we are afraid that courage becomes a question. Courage is amazing because it can tap in to the heart of fear, taking that frightened energy and turning it towards initiative, creativity, action and hope. When courage comes alive, imprisoning walls become new frontiers of possibility, difficulty becomes invitation and the heart comes into a new rhythm of trust and sureness. There are secret sources of courage inside every human heart; yet courage needs to be awakened in us. The encounter with the Beautiful can bring such awakening. Courage is a spark that can become the flame of hope, lighting new and exciting pathways in what seemed to be dead, dark landscapes.
So, on we go, finding the Beautiful in new places and people in this new day!