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Monday, Fourth Week of Lent

"Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes in the morning." - Psalm 30:5

"Rainbow Landscape", c. 1636, Peter Paul Rubens

Rubens is consummately the painter of happiness. But this sunlit, unreflecting sense of well-being, precious though it is, is not joy. Joy is something deeper, and in a sense sterner. Although we cannot command it, we choose joy, making a deliberate commitment to happiness (essentially another word for peace). Rubens delights in the positive: the rainbow symbolizing hope (and in itself beautiful), the light glinting on the rich meadows, the benign cattle and their fruitful surroundings. Yet there are dark elements, too, in the picture if we want to seek them out: the sunless woods are not far away. Rubens chooses: he emphasizes the good things. Joy is independent of choosing: it overwhelms and suffuses us.

The Bright Field R.S. Thomas

I have seen the sun break through

to illuminate a small field

for a while, and gone my way

and forgotten it. But that was the

pearl of great price, the one field that had

treasure in it. I realize now

that I must give all that I have

to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future, not hankering after

an imagined past. It is the turning

aside like Moses to the miracle

of the lit bush, to a brightness

that seemed as transitory as your youth

once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

"The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all he has and buys that field. Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant

in search of fine pearls;

on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it." - Matthew 13:44-46

"The Gospel is not about giving up and going without for its own sake; it is making room for something wonderful. It is clearing out the clutter, not only making space but taking the time for the Kingdom that might seem tiny as a mustard seed but will prove, in due course, to be the great branching tree in whose canopy we all find a place. But we must glimpse the seed, buy the field, take the time, and not lose it all by 'hurrying by'." - Malcom Guite

Earth's crammed with Heaven,

and every common bush afire with God;

but only he who sees, takes off his shoes,

(Aurora Leigh, lines 61-3)


Lord, I believe... my unbelief

I want to see your glory...

...and be the one who unties their sandals in Joy. Amen.

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