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Don’t hold back

News St Martin – Talking Points

Sunday 13 April 2014

There is a cherry tree near my home which is a source of wonder to me.

Every year in early April, the tree’s wintry deadness is transformed into something resembling an enormous stick of candy floss, each branch and twig obscured by clouds of delicate pink blossom. In my eyes it is one of the glories of spring, and I look forward to seeing it every year.

This year the image of this tree has taken on an extra dimension for me. Like many others at St Martin’s during Lent I have been reading Gerard Hughes’ book, ‘God of Surprises’. In it he talks about our becoming aware of states of ‘unconscious atheism’. Hughes suggests that on one level we might truly believe that all power belongs to God, and without God we can do nothing. But then perhaps something happens that shakes our security, and as a result we become aware of deeper levels of our consciousness to which faith has not penetrated. We might shrink from handing over these anxieties to God for fear of what it might cost us. But look at Jesus as he approaches Jerusalem, obeying a call that demands everything: he holds absolutely nothing back. Without his total obedience to the events of Good Friday there can be no Easter resurrection.

When I see the cherry tree covered in flowers I see another example of what it means to hold nothing back. It prompts me to reflect on the ways in which my unconscious atheism can prevent boundless blossoming. Letting go of these layers of unbelief requires time, trust and attentiveness. Maybe Holy Week is a time to reflect on which branches in you are yet to blossom? What might happen if you held nothing back?

Caroline Essex