ὁδὸς ἄνω κάτω μία καὶ ὡυτή
Herakleitos I. p. 89 Fr. 60.
“the way upward and the way downward is one and the same”
I like this time of the year, February- the cusp of spring- the stirring from hibernation, the orientation of the earth tilting on its axis towards a warmer inclination. The cold, frozen earth in the Northern Hemisphere which has lain dormant over the winter, starts to come alive. The snowdrops are sending up their green shoots once again; peeping through the surface, these bold, hardy flowers, with heads bowed in humility are drawn by the sun. They are the front line of nature’s offspring in the march towards life, silent heralds and signalmen of the resurrection to come. The stretching of their sensitive, sinuous roots ever downward and the upward struggle of their shoots ever upward require equal grace filled effort. The breaking open of the bulb, the flourishing of the epiderm, the nodding of the head before the movement of the wind ( the spirit), and finally, the full glory of this tiny flower stands before the Creator of the Cosmos.
The Liturgical cycle is a movement in God’s time, in which we glance brief moments of eternity. Our inclination and disposition towards God, our prostrations and metanias, are the means to spiritual growth. We must put down roots of stability and at the same time reach with our arms towards the heavens. We flourish at the presence of Christ; we say “yes” to the guidance of the Holy Spirit; and at the last we are embraced as sons and daughters of Light in the arms of our heavenly Father.
The great fast of winter leads to the feasts of the Nativity and beyond to Theophany and the great fast of Lent leads to the Cross of Pascha and beyond to the Resurrection. The cold heart is indeed called, broken, drawn and imperiously captured by the warmth and light of our loving God. We are God’s little flowers. Renewed in vigour and faith from sensing the power from above, the season and the time, we become again brave Christians who break out of stricken conformity, that dark place we inhabit, into the beautiful freedom of Christ’s Kingdom.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
By Father Jonathan Hemmings