Tag Archives: Spring

An April Sonnet

1 Apr

As spring makes its way even into chilly Minnesota, we share this poem written by a favorite teacher at the College of St. Catherine. May you be blessed by the beauty around you.

April Sonnet

Poem by Sister Alice Gustava Smith, CSJ.

Easter in This Life

24 Mar
Photo via Flickr user Anne Reeves

Photo via Flickr user Anne Reeves

“Hang on,” I wrote to my friend yesterday, “Easter is coming.”

A lot of people close to me are suffering. A friend’s transplant match fell through. A high school sophomore is having dark thoughts of hurting himself. My dad got a cancer diagnosis and is waiting to hear more about the implications. A friend was sexually harassed at work. My friend’s baby is in the hospital with pneumonia, not able to breathe on his own. Another friend’s dad died suddenly. We are sitting in Good Friday, waiting for Easter.

We know Easter is coming, but Jesus’ friends didn’t. Jesus, the friend they thought was the Messiah, died. He was gone. Can you imagine the grief and confusion filling those days between? Did their minds go to anger? Resentment? Betrayal? Hopelessness? They weren’t days of waiting because they didn’t know Easter was coming. I have to imagine some of them thought is was just over. Jesus was just really gone for good. To this day, we are always surprised at the permanence of death. Death from this place really is forever. It’s jarring. So I assume Jesus’ friends were dealing with this reality. In shock. Jarred.

In that way, I feel lucky to know the whole story, to know that Good Friday is not the end. Yet unlike Jesus’ friends, we don’t get to see Jesus risen. Not yet. Easter will come after Good Friday, and then our lives here continue. I do hope Easter gives the people I care for a moment of relief, but our pain here and now continues. We trudge on, looking for ways to claim mini resurrections in this life, our messy, broken lives. I asked the young people I work with how they know it is spring:

you hear birds singing

you see green breaking through the dirt

you can walk outside without a heavy coat, scarf, hat and mittens

Spring is coming. The days are getting longer. There is relief and renewal if we just hang on. With my son more stable these days, no longer a baby, I have felt a mini resurrection in my own life. I see friends, go for a run, find myself more emotionally available to other people. I sleep through the night and wake up refreshed. I choose to claim the beauty and new life in my days, in the midst of all the suffering. It is a daily decision to acknowledge the Easter and now.

Bukowski reminds us of the mini resurrections that happen in this life while we wait for the next:

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.

you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.

(experts from “The Laughing Heart”)

Happy Easter to you. May you beat death in life, sometimes. May you find your Alleluia.

Going to Get Life

26 Feb

Winter in Minnesota is not for the weary. The cold wind will not relent. The snow continues to fall. By late February, I am whispering to myself, “This too shall pass.” When my spouse goes out of town for work, I make sure to get things on my social calendar to feed my extroverted side. Last week while he was gone, several friends had to cancel because they had “the crud.” Yoga got cancelled due to weather. I cancelled twice on people because twice my little Prius got stuck– once in the driveway that I shoveled before venturing out and once in the alley that was, indeed, plowed. I was not going anywhere.

I was sore from shoveling icy snow onto the piles that are now well over my head. I was sore from falling hard on ice and driving my hip bone into the sidewalk. Sore, cold, alone and going nowhere, I let myself wallow a bit. Just a bit. Then, like every February in Minnesota, I knew it was time to decide to fight defeat and go out to get life. On Sunday afternoon, Dan and I bought more house plants. We walked around the big greenhouse full of thriving flowers and plants, warmed by the sun. I took off my scarf, unzipped my coat and lengthened my neck. We picked out a few indoor plants and bought seeds, too. We potted our plants and planted our seeds. We added water. I sat down on the couch, dirt still underneath my fingernails, took in my living room filled with new life, took a deep, cleansing breath and smiled. That was all it took to know it would be okay. If you can’t go to the mountain, bring the mountain to you. It was a simple gesture, really, but it made all the difference in the world. There are plants, sitting in the sun coming through my window, living and breathing. They are my sign of hope that spring will come.

via flickr user nelgdev

via flickr user nelgdev

In Pastrix, Nadia Bolz-Weber suggests that when Jesus appears to Mary at the empty tomb, maybe she mistook him as the gardener because he was still covered in dirt from laying dead in the tomb for three days. “And how, even after we’ve experienced some sort of resurrection, it’s never perfect or impressive like an Easter bonnet, because, like Jesus, resurrected bodies are always in rough shape.” And of course it couldn’t be Jesus. Jesus was dead and this man in front of her, covered in dirt, was alive. How could life come from death? How could something come from nothing? Nadia reminds us that nothing is God’s favorite material to work with. This beautiful passage from Pastrix came back to me as I basked in the presence of my new plants. We so easily forget that God can bring life out of death. God can bring something out of nothing. February will not have the last word. “God simply keeps reaching down into the dirt of humanity and resurrecting us from the graves we dig for ourselves through our violence, our lies, our selfishness, our arrogance, and our addictions. And God keeps loving us back to life over and over.”

When I feel cold and despair creep in, I go check on my new plants and seedlings. Life wins. I thank God for daily resurrection and God’s ability to make me new, to love me back to life over and over.

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