The rain to the wind said, “You push and I’ll pelt.”
They so smote the garden that the flowers actually knelt,
And lay lodged, though not dead.
I know how the flowers felt.
We’ve all experienced those overwhelming spring thundershowers during which we quickly dash inside, only to return to lament the devastation to our lovely yet fragile tulips, daffodils, lilies, etc. Our hearts visit the surface of that grieving well within our souls that holds the accumulation of all the precious ones and things lost to us. So delicate, so helpless, so beautiful.
I remember such a storm at my grandmother’s house when I was perhaps 10 years old. Wishing to make the best of an unfortunate situation. I cut the “kneeling” flowers and brought them to my grandmother to enjoy. Grandmother smiled and thanked me but said, “Next time, leave them to see if God is finished with them yet.” Only a few days later more flowers had bloomed and another storm came. Again, the flowers hugged the ground and seemed irretrievably lost. I wanted to save them, from a withering death in the hot sun. But I left them alone. By mid-afternoon, they were almost all as beautiful and straight and tall as their pre-storm form!
In this Holy Week and in this time of pandemic, Robert Frost’s poem is right on track. Jesus became like us in every way, suffered our temptation, laughed our laughs, cried our tears, grieved our grief, endured our humiliation, bled our blood, died our death. In whatever suffering we face, God in Christ is there with us not symbolically or from a distance but fully present. But Jesus did not “lay lodged, though not dead.” He died. Just to make that clear, the early councils of the Church added that he “descended into hell,” (LBW) or “descended to the dead.” (ELW)
Good Friday is real, perhaps more so this Lent than any other. St. Paul decided that, if there is no resurrection, Good Friday leaves us “of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Cor. 15: 12-28) Even so, for those “in Christ,” Easter resurrection power holds death in the past tense and not as a future and final inevitability. Baptism into death and resurrection makes death the gate to reconciliation with Christ and all the saints. Because of Easter, we know that “God is not finished with us yet!”
No matter how devastated you may feel individually or corporately, because of this pandemic or just because life in general you know all too well how the flowers felt, despite how seemingly final the grief of our Good Fridays feels, remember, above all things, that the flowers, and Christ, are risen…and so, in him, are you. Hope wins. Love lives!
Through Calvary and COVID-19,
Bishop Tim Smith
Image by sandid from Pixabay.