Change is in the air! Autumn is fast approaching, we see it's warning signs in the smattering of leaves changing color, and feel it's chill in the crisp air in the morning.
Change is never easy, ....and changes in the weather are often the very least of our difficulties. It simply means shifting our wardrobes from summer to fall; putting our gardens to rest, popping a few pumpkins here and there, and perhaps stockpiling wood for the bigger changes yet to come.
Our gospel this Sunday is a story about change....a change of heart on the part of one who initially refuses a 'call'. In this story, a landowner asks his two children to go out into the vineyard to do some work.
One initially refuses, then 'changes' his or her mind, and goes to do what has been asked. The other initially responds with a firm "yes" ... a promised commitment, but doesn't show up on the job.
I expect that any one of us could be either character in this scenario.
Sometimes we dig our heels in on a decision, only upon reflection (and a bit of grace!) to change our mind and experience a 'transformation' a change from one way of being to a more open, responsive way of being.
And, sometimes we might be the character who says "sure", but doesn't show.
Jesus is using this parable to indicate that even when we've set upon a path that is not leading in the right direction, we can be changed, transformed into true followers of his Way. This is not quite as simple as the change of season wardrobe adjustment, but the process is quite similar. We need to take some time to do a spot check of our inner wardrobes.....what are we carrying/wearing within that's holding us back....what's keeping us from responding with an open heart and open mind....what are we holding onto that belongs to a 'past' season?
Our chosen reading for this Sunday by Joyce Rupp provides some opportunity for deeper reflection on the dynamic of transformation. We hope that you will find it enriching.....
AUTUMN PRAYER OF ACCEPTANCE (adapted)
Autumn God, earth teaches me by her natural turning from one season to another. As she enters into the dying and rising cycle, she welcomes the changes. May I be open to the teachings in this season of autumn and turn as autumn does toward opportunities for my spiritual transformation.
When I accept only the beautiful and reject the tattered, torn parts of who I am, when I treat things that are falling apart as my enemies, walk me among the dying leaves. Let them tell me about their power to r e-energize the earth's soil by their decomposition and decay.
When I fear the loss of my youthfulness and the reality of my aging, turn my faced to the brilliant colors of October trees. Open my spirit to the mellow resonance of autumn sunsets. Brush your love past my heart with the beauty of golden leaves twirling from the autumn trees.
When I refuse to wait with the mystery of the unknown and when I struggle to control rather than to let life evolve, wrap me in the darkening days of November. Encourage me to enter into stillness and silent mystery, to wait patiently for clarity and wisdom.
When I grow tired of using my gifts to benefit others, take me to the autumned fields where earth freely yields the bounty of her summer. Let me become aware of how she allows her lands to be stripped clean so her fruitfulness will be a source of nourishment.
When I neglect to care for myself and become totally absorbed in life's activities, let me see how animals gather sustenance and provide for their winter. Take me inside the caves of those who hibernate and remind me of my contemplative nature.
When I fight unwanted and unsought changes and when I seek to keep things just as they are, place me on the wings of birds flying South for another season. Gather their spirit of freedom into my heart. Let me be willing to leave my well satisfied place of comfort for the discomfort of a long flight into the unknown.
Thank you, God of Transformation, for all these lessons that the autumned earth teaches me.
May the beginning of this Autumn season be a time of renewal and transformation in your heart!
Jean & Ron