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“For you shall go out in joy”

By Canon Cate Edmonds

“For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” – Isaiah 55:12

On one of the bright sunny days we have had popping through the dreary rain filled days, recently, I was out walking my dogs in the woods. Trying hard not to slip and slide on the muddy path, I was gazing around me. The bright green shoots of the bluebells, which will cover the floor of these woods in April, were glowing in the bright sunlight. Then the green shoots of the trees around me struck me. Their curled immature bright green leaves pushing out from the dreary brown bark reminded me of new life that is springing up around us at this time of year perhaps a bit earlier than usual. Next, the verse from Isaiah came to mind. As I looked more closely all the trees around me had shoots appearing; it really felt as if they were starting to clap and burst forth into song.

I continued on my walk feeling quite uplifted and singing to myself the words of a worship song, which I used to use occasionally with children in my previous parishes:

“You shall go out with joy,
And be led forth with peace
The mountains and the hills
Will break forth before you
There’ll be shouts of joy
And all the trees of the field
Will clap, will clap their hands.”

With all the damp and dreary weather we have had over the last few months, the disturbing news that the media surrounds us with, the general anxiety around the cost of living and climate change; it is hard to be joyous at times. However, the creation that I saw around me was joyous; the trees of the wood were starting to clap their hands.

It can be hard when times seem rather dark and troubled to be joyful and uplifted, but it struck me that nature was making, in the words of the Psalmist, “a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises.” Psalm 98:4

We too just need to look around us at the metaphorical mountains and the hills and allow ourselves to be led forth in peace and be joyful as we continue on life’s journey. The breaking forth of the green shoots raised my spirits. We, in times of trial, just need to look for green shoots. They are not far away, Then we may well feel the need to clap our hands in praise and thanksgiving.