Monday, 4 April 2011


It was a glorious spring afternoon. The sun was shining, the daffodils were flowering; the trees were beginning to burst into fresh leaves. Nature was waking up after a bleak, death-like winter. Responding to nature's joyful re-birth I sallied forth with my digital camera along a beautiful avenue, which runs past our priory. I delighted in the interesting patterns of shadows formed by the bright sunlight, as well as the fresh colours of the spring flowers. There were also people strolling along the avenue or sitting on benches. Here, I thought, was great scope for a variety of interesting pictures.

When I down-loaded my pictures into my computer I was pleased with the results. And I thought Peter, in the W. Indies, would welcome sights of an English spring. But then to my surprise, to my horror, I saw a dead rat in the foreground of my picture of forsythia. Can't you see it's all too familiar grey body and thin long tail? How did it get there? How could I have missed that despised rodent, hunted down as a pest? A pest that gets everywhere, even into my picture of a beautiful flower. Is there no limit to its intrusions? Would it ruin my picture, or could I crop it out? I needed to take a closer look. So I decided to zoom in on the rat.

As I examined the grey-brown detail of my picture (R) it looked less and less like the despised rat. Suddenly it dawned on me. It's not a rat. It's a dead leaf! I must confess the stalk does look like a rat's tail, but the veins on the leaf are the give-away. When I told Peter about my confusion he burst into fits of laughter. "There must be a blog there," he said excitedly. "I don't know where it will take you, but do it!"

Now there's a challenge. How could my confusing a dead leaf with a dead rat help me meet God. I ask you, "What would you do?" As I pondered a passage in Mark's Gospel came to mind.

Some people asked Jesus to cure a blind man. When He touched the man's eyes they were only gradually cured. At first he said,

'I can see people, but they look trees walking.' Then Jesus laid His hands on His eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly," (Mk. 8. 24-25).

At first the man was confused; he'd misinterpreted what he saw. He knew trees shouldn't be walking. But gradually Jesus brought his eyes into focus and he could correctly distinguish men from trees.

For Mark's Gospel this episode was crucial. From this point onwards Jesus tried to explain to His disciples that the Christ must suffer and die, but would rise from the grave. That was not what they expected or wanted of the promised Messiah, whom Peter had just correctly identified! Peter wanted to protect Jesus from such a fate. Peter wanted Jesus to be a triumphant leader. Suffering and death played no part in Peter's expectations for Jesus and His followers. Triumph and glory in Christ's kingdom -that's what Peter wanted for all of them. Despite His repeated efforts Jesus could not remove this false impression of His Messianic mission. Although He succeeded in eventually getting the blind man's eyes into correct focus, He sadly failed with His closest followers.

What about me? Am I as confused about Jesus' identity as I was when I mistook a dead leaf for a dead rat? Am I prepared to put aside my first impressions, my prejudices -to listen, to look and to learn? Am I willing to allow Jesus to touch the eyes of my mind; to touch and change my life? Am I prepared to disregard my own pre-conceptions and accept Jesus on His own terms?

If I'm to meet Jesus, especially during Lent, I must accept Him as the Suffering, but triumphant, Servant of the Lord. If I'm to meet Him I must travel with Him on the Way of the Cross which is the only path for me to follow, which alone can lead to my sharing in the glory of His resurrection.

Life is truly amazing! It's crazy and wonderful how God can find ways to touch our imaginations and hearts! A seemingly straight-forward picture causes me great confusion and then amusement. More than that, I can find in it the key elements of the mystery of salvation -the mystery of death followed by new life. The dead leaf represents the crucified Christ. If I could be so easily confused over a dead leaf, I'm reminded that Jesus was so completely misunderstood that the saviour of the world was despised and rejected. But then my picture is dominated by the birth of new life, represented by the flowering forsythia -a lovely image of the risen Lord. I am to meet the mystery of the crucified and risen Christ, crazily represented by a dead leaf and a flowering plant.

Isidore O.P.

In fortnight Peter will reflect on meeting God

1 comment:

  1. I don't know what gives me more delight.The poetic description of spring in England or the picture of Fr Isidore sallying forth with his camera!
    On a more serious note I found the above epidode a salutary warning.
    How often do I mistconstrue what I've seen or heard and leap to a hasty conclusion without exploring the evidence?
    Friendships and relationships can be put under severe stress as a result of such carelessness.
    May Christ open our eyes and our ears and our minds.
    And please no rats!