The flock of small sweet blackbirds swept between great gusts of wind and capricious snow flurries. They discovered shelter nestling in the naked branches of a towering oak, still and silent, melding into leaf-like silhouettes. And then, on cue they swept skyward as one formation and disappeared from sight. And somehow, it is that moment of awe, that strips bare the dimnsions of life we do not always see. There is more to life than we can know, and yet we are surrounded by that splendor in every moment. In the book of Genesis, Abraham is invited to look at the sky, at the stars, and promised descendants as numerous. And later, in the Gospel. the Apostles view of Jesus is transformed: for a moment, they see who and what He was. They could not capture or contain it, and so fell silent. But the phenomenon, the moment of truly seeing, is what brings meaning. Such glimpses remind us of how small we are in the Universe, and how brilliant and brave it is to believe.
The world is watching now as the Ukraine resists the weight of a Russain war machine. There too is the phenomenon of courage, of firm identity and shared purpose. Humbled by the images of courageous men and women standing their ground, battling for their lives and freedom, we are witnessing the transformation of the world we knew. Something that had familiarity and distance suddenly has found center stage and evoked curious conversations about cause and effect, issues and possibilities. It has drawn our attention and underlined the powerlessness of that awareness, evoked the sense that simply watching is all we can do.
The truth, though, is that experiences bring change: change in perspective, in understanding, in choices and in decisions. Looking at the sky is an invitation to see beyond, to look up, to realize where you really are in the world, who you really are. That knowledge, that sense, draws on the past and leads to the future through every moment in the present. It was like that for Abraham, gazing at the sky. It was like that for the Apostles, beginning to understand their common past and catch a glimpse of a still mysterious future while living fully, attentively, in the present. In both cases, it is about beginning to see the bigger picture, the whole of who we are. All of that is affirmed in the reading from the Philippians; “He will change our lowly bodies…” Paul’s life was a testimony to the power of choice and change, to looking up and to believing in what seemed impossible.
Tonight, in the Ukraine, believing in what seems impossible is a testimony to the hope that is born of seeing self as part of a greater whole. Ukraine, transformed now, is inspiring each of us to see more clearly what really matters. Like Abraham and the Apostles, this is a moment to remember the past, live in the present and begin to grasp the future. Looking up means letting go of what was before, breathing deeply in now, and opening to what may have seemed impossible. There is something beyond what is just waiting to be seen and known, embraced and believed.