My garden is a riot of color! My roses are blooming and blossoming in celebration of the Spring that has sprung! How fitting for the spiritual practice in Eastertide–to notice and to celebrate new life that is appearing everywhere. I was treated to a trip up the coast this past weekend, and even there in the midst of sand and cypress trees, flowers were coming out: lupine on the freeways, California poppies by the road and beach blossoms whose names I did not know proliferated along wood sidewalks and rocky shores. I kept hearing the words of sacred text, “I am doing a new thing.”
The flowering of nature is just an opening act for the new things I have witnessed in the conversations and encounters I have had in these first two weeks of Eastertide. Possibly because I have turned my attention away from clearing out spaces to attending to what is new and possible, my senses are heightened to the way the resurrection power is being demonstrated in ordinary and precious lives. I listened with amazement as one by one people have been willing to chronicle a blossoming, sometimes without their awareness–a new protocol, a shift in perspective, a healing practice, the lift of a cloud, the clear shining through a new lens. All of these call for celebrations. Someone who has been missing is here with us–hooray! Someone who has been ill is finally well–thanks be to God! Someone who been tied up in anger at the “way things are” is freed to act on a solution to the very source of anger–let’s rejoice!
Even as I write this on a beautiful windy, sun-drenched day in Southern California, I am aware that my loves around the world are trying to recover from blizzards, dig themselves out of snow-drifts, or continue to be faced with daunting and terrifying challenges in the days ahead. The darkness is not gone completely. As I walked the conference ground this weekend, I remembered the last time I had been there to work in ministry. It was a week after my mother had died, as had the mother of my colleague who was sharing leadership with me. It was all we could do to notice the beauty that surrounded us. In the chapel, we were led into silence and quiet by a singing duo who taught us a chant, using just these two words, “Light and Darkness,” then repeated those words twice again. We sang them in a melodic round, and soon the the harmonies emerged and filled the dark space while the candles were lit. It was then that I began to know in my bones that what the Psalmist says is true, “My darkness is not dark to you.” The new things that God has done, is doing, will do, begins in darkness, sometimes extensive, before things become new–my roses, the lupine and poppies, the healing and seeing clearly. But God is accompanies us in the darkness as well as the light, in the underground, in the not-knowing, unseeing, even the hopeless and despairing miasma of our fears and doubts. I can already begin to celebrate what is becoming new, out of my sight, because I trust that with the Holy One there are no final defeats. All will become new!
I am continuing my practice of looking for and rejoicing in the newness of life this Eastertide–bursting buds and leaping lambs, breakthroughs and miracles–I want to celebrate in trust the things not yet seen, that are growing and becoming new in the dark, believing that even death itself is not the final word. All of it belongs to God, all is in God, and all will, in the end, be well. So I sing my song of blooming today, “Light and Darkness, Light and Darkness, Light and Darkness,” my Easter hymn of praise!