I have written about life in our backyard from time to time, and Holy Week offers another chance to notice the connection between the way we look at the world and the way God sees it.
Actually, full disclosure up front, I’m not a fan of Lent. If it were up to me, we would have one 24-hour period of repentance (not 40 days) at the beginning of Holy Week. Something like the day of Atonement in Jewish tradition. Forty days seems like too much emphasis on repentance, and not enough on the other half of that coin – Easter Resurrection. I think it comes from my Philadelphia Catholic upbringing that focused on the “Jesus died for your sins” approach. As a young girl, I could not understand the logic of that approach: when I was not even born yet, Jesus died for my sins, so why was it my fault? I think this is the heart of Catholic guilt. You are to blame even if you weren’t there. And sometimes it takes a lifetime to see it differently.
But I digress.
Every living things knows the dying/rising cycle. I see it in our back yard all the time. Trees know it. Finches who were once grey and brown, come back to their brilliant golds and yellows. Snow drops and daffodils come back, because they know dying and rising. The grasses, the bees, the hummingbirds, the rose bushes. All know. They do not focus only on dying or only on rebirth. Winter does not say, “I am more important.” Spring does not say, “I am number one.” Nature is in balance. There is a season for each, a time for each. One leads to the other in an exquisite rhythm.
There is a balance and a beauty in the Holy Week drama when taken as a whole, when we see the complete story, the epic story from beginning to end (which is actually another beginning). So this year, I encourage you to be sure to take it all in as one beautiful, even theatrical, performance of Love.
In Act 1, Jesus prepares his followers for the long journey ahead without his physical presence by giving them the Bread of Life on Holy Thursday, teaching them servant leadership and forgiveness of sin. On Good Friday, Act 2, Jesus gives himself over to misguided and fearful men, in a time of moral and ethical corruption and social chaos. A self-sacrifice without assurances of a happy ending or a last minute rescue. In Act 3, the fallow waiting of Holy Saturday mimics the dormancy of the winter earth and the quiet time of expectation, of the hidden and mysterious working of God. The bursting forth of the Risen Christ in Act 4, reflects the explosive power of Spring, when all of nature awakens. All of life is changed and God unites our story of salvation with the story of creation.
So when you watch the back yard come back to life, remember that every blade of grass, every bumble bee and songbird is God calling out to you: Alive!