I am sitting at the desk in my study, the spring sun lighting up the window, and listening to a CD of Elgar's 'The Apostles.' I particularly love the opening to this work, a Prologue which is an anthem all by itself: 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.' The words come from Isaiah 61, and are quoted by Jesus in the Nazareth synagogue in Luke 4. Of course the prophecy is about Jesus himself, but it seems to me that the words apply (in a small way, and in all humility) to every disciple. Are we not called, wherever we are, to '...give unto them that mourn a garland for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified?'
We have just returned from a few days in Barcelona - our visit there last year was cut short by my mother's illness, so we decided we would go back. In the cathedral of Sagrada Familia, still under construction with cranes among its slender ornate spires, it came to me that whatever our human failures, whatever our individual frustrations, God will have his way, in his time. Our human life, even for those of us whose lives are very blessed with freedom and opportunity, is beset by restrictions and restraints - time, health, ability, many obligations. No doubt we all feel this to some degree, and I am certainly someone whose vision far exceeds her capabilities! But from our tiny mustard seeds, sown in faith, God can cause great trees to flourish, and his vision is as far above ours as the sky is above the earth. To paraphrase St Paul in 1 Corinthians 3, 'One sows, another waters, but God gives the increase.'
We were told that Sagrada Familia's architect, the visionary Gaudi - ('Was he a genius, or was he loco?' asked our guide. 'You decide!') - knew when the building was begun that some of his ideas could not come to fruition in his lifetime: the technology was not yet in place. But he believed that future generations would be able to bring his designs to life,and so it has proved. Gaudi was not only a genius (maybe loco as well) but also a man of faith, and his belief is a great encouragement, especially to those of us who are trying, with whatever degree of success, to leave some kind of message. Few of us are called to build a great cathedral; for some a family will be their legacy, and for myself I hope it will be my words. If we sow in faith to the glory of God, using such gifts as we have been given, God will give the increase, making of our half-baked efforts something mightier than we can see in this circumscribed present moment.
Some images of Sagrada Familia.