Some 700 years ago, Geoffrey Chaucer began one of the first great poems in the English language with these words:
When April’s gentle rains have pierced the drought
of March right to the root, and bathed each sprout
through every vein with liquid of such power
it brings forth the engendering of the flower—
on pilgrimage then folks desire to start.
The Canterbury Tales spins its stories on the energy that flows through every vestige of spring, from reborn earth in the garden to reborn souls at Easter. There is undoubtedly an annual life surge that allows every form of promise to shine a little brighter, every shred of hope to bend toward the sun, every wintered foot to long for the open road. That which we all can feel and see at this time of year, around us and within us, is at the heart of this issue of Cathedral Age.
We look at the renewal sweeping through the Cathedral in the form of Easter, Flower Mart, and the continuing restoration following last year’s earthquake. There is new life coming to us through the generosity of so many of the Cathedral’s faithful—from the coins of children to a contribution from our colleagues at Westminster Abbey. There are new and fruitful partnerships with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Blessed Earth. All Hallows Guild’s role in nurturing our gardens, woods, and lawns—begun in the wisdom of Florence Bratenahl and continued to this day—is given due honor in print, even as thousands give thanks for that work with their eyes. Minds, hearts, and institutions all have a “desire to start” in one way or another on long-imagined journeys. The pilgrimage impulse can be seen in the restlessness of our world economy, the stretching of the Middle East, and the protests in our own nation. All of these are before us, inviting our contemplation as well as our energy.
The message of spring is hard to miss at this time of year, but in the Kingdom of God it is not seasonal. The promise of God is newness every morning, a promise I have seen fulfilled over and over in the months I have been serving as interim dean. There is an open and restive spirit at work among us that brings about an eagerness for what comes next. This is a hard-working and hopeful place, with people giving shape and voice to a multitude of visions for ministry and service. I see a solid platform of expectation gathering around the new dean whose name we do not yet know. I think people are looking for this person to embody the perpetual springtime of God, calling us to new heights, new understandings, and new ways to be the spiritual home for the nation, with creative ways to touch and be touched by ministry. People in the offices and the nave alike are full of ideas and energy. Hundreds of volunteers and Cathedral Congregation members continue to serve and be enriched by God’s Spirit moving in and through this work. Urban, pastoral, and educational ministries are acquiring the kind of depth that will enable each of them to move beyond the local Washington community and feed the wider church—while countless visitors from across the country and around the world are finding their way as pilgrims to this Cathedral, in search of wonder and a closer connection with God.
Every vein is filling with God’s power. I hope you join me in anticipating the flowers being engendered here.