To call my true love to my dance

Today we celebrate the Exaltation of the Cross... or, as a couple of social media posts have already called it, the Exultation of the Cross. And why not? The Cross, evil, gruesome and ugly as it was - and can be in our lives - is also the means of our redemption and the source of our hope. We cannot rejoice in the violence and pain, but we can rejoice and exult in Jesus' wondrous, self-giving love, and the abundant new life which somehow conquered all the cruelty. 

During Lockdown 1 I was responsible for a small garden which held a clematis (I cannot say it contained a clematis - this one was uncontainable!). Aside from its lovely white flowers I enjoyed its unashamed vine-ness, as it stretched and climbed and clung, its tendrils twirling themselves around anything - including its own stems and leaves - which they could encircle. 

After I'd done some pruning I was delighted to discover several dried, dead tendrils frozen like this - midway between a cross and a moment of ecstacy, arms thrown out wide in elation. They're dead; lifeless; but also extremely alive. And you can call me fanciful or highly imaginative, but when I looked at them yesterday I heard echoes of the medieval carol Tomorrow shall be my Dancing Day. Each short verse describes an episode from Jesus' life, ending with the refrain To call my true love to my dance. And then the chorus - 

Sing, oh! my love, oh! my love, my love, my love,
This have I done for my true love. 

In it, I can hear echoes of Jesus' words to Julian of Norwich, when, during 'this happy rejoicing' in which he shows her his heart, sundered in two, he says: See how I loved you... See what delight and happiness your salvation gives me. And rejoice with me because of my love... I loved you so much before I died for you that I wanted to die for you... And now all my bitter pain, and all my hard labour is turned into endless joy and happiness for me and for you... (10th Revelation)

Maybe today, unremittingly grey and soggy as it is, and in times which are increasingly dark and unstable, is a good day for remembering and exulting in Jesus' love poured out for us... and remembering that he wants nothing more than to call each one, each true love, to join him in his dance...