New Life in Springtime

20 04 2014

New Life! Like spring! How cliché. What an overused analogy…or is it?
act of burying—planting—every seed, bulb, rootling is to bring life, for the potential within to multiply and grow and transform. Even to the smallest parts of life we can see: the cell must divide to multiply; a “split” atom bursts with untold power and energy. Gold and silver are melted down in fire to refine and purify them and make them precious and useful. How relieved we are when the spring comes, the weather warms, and the chill and bleak and cold white starkness slink into the past. We see green blades emerging from the ground where last month there was frozen snow. We look for the first flowers to emerge, snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils, first just green sprouts, then buds, then color returns to our world. Following them, the trees begin to bud.
Springtime (coincidentally?) is also the time Christians celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection, and I am reading Walter Wangerin Jr.’s Lenten reflections entitled “Reliving the Passion”.
He speaks of the “Merciful Paradox.” “Where then, is our window into heaven, to see and know and believe the nature of God?” He answers: “In his crucifixion, his death, his separation from God. That is how we enter the door of Heaven…”
Not in the miracles, the healings, the prayers is God revealed, so much as in Jesus’ death. The ultimate sacrifice. Willing to be abandoned so that we would not be. Willing to die. Came to earth to die, according to his own description of himself. Ironically, paradoxically, when the world gets dark, the earth quakes and the Savior seems to have died, when the end seems to have arrived, is when life begins. He has left the tomb–alive! And in the separation, God comes closest. In Jesus’ death, God redeems. The centurion recognizes in Jesus, the man dying on the cross, the Son of God. The curtain in the temple, separating the Holy of Holies where God dwelled, tore from the top to the bottom, allowing full access to a no longer separate and unapproachable God.
Paradox: As God goes, God comes. Death, resurrection. Jesus returns to heaven—the Holy Spirit is given to us, dwelling within us. Tragedies in our lives often make us stronger. Tear down, rebuild. In disasters, there are helpers, always helpers.
If Jesus in God died and was buried to bring LIFE ,then surely  there must be hope in our dark times. Meanwhile, we are promised strength for the journey. Let your losses, all your little (and big) deaths be your life-givers. Let your time in a dark place be a seed underground, just waiting its time, its spring time to burst forth—or at least sprout bravely with potential to grow and thrive.
The dark soil is a safe place in which to  “germinate;” to wait; to prepare for the death of the acorn and the emergence of the oak; watch the mustard seed produce a plant that offers a home to many birds. The teeny crocus that gives to those who see it great joy that spring is finally near—there is warmth and new life coming soon.
And so again, nature mimics and declares heaven. Heaven we cannot see is reflected in the nature we can see. Even paradoxes and mysteries unravel before our eyes sometimes. Was there a profound, universe-redeeming, life-giving death and resurrection which holds the promise of life today?
The crocus seems to answer—YES!