Easter is about life coming out of death. It was Jesus’ choice to go through death in order to bring life to the world. I remember my dad once said, over the table at Easter Sunday lunch – maybe it was even before my mother died…? no it can’t have been because I wouldn’t have known the answer back then – not that I was free to tell him what I know, not that he would have listened if I had… ! Anyway, he said, in a tone of great puzzlement, “Why do they say that Jesus died for us?”
He meant it – he didn’t understand… and probably most people these days don’t either. There is not a lot of consciousness or conviction that we need to ‘be saved’ and have our innate rebellion dealt with in order to lose our burden of guilt and be put right with God, so we can know His forgiveness and love. It’s a great story – the one about the judge telling the prisoner that he deserves the death penalty for his crime and then taking off his wig and going to the dock to take his place… and that’s exactly what God did in Jesus.
I wonder if Port Talbot’s up-to-date community retelling of the Passion this coming weekend will help anybody see the truth of that? You can follow it on their website: its already started. I do hope they don’t stop before the resurrection morning – that bit it is really the crunch point! But it’s not going to be very easy for a bunch of ordinary Welsh people to portray, even with brilliant local actor Martin Sheen at the helm.
I digress… I wrote these poems this week and they are not about Easter. But they are about hope in the midst of despair, the recognition of life and death co-existing – kind of working together, taking it in turns – and the possibility of finding nourishment in the strangest places and water in the desert… even if you are not Moses. This is my story and this is my hope – especially at the moment in the dryness of my life in mid-April 2011.
So… bees in my garden and imaginary landmarks on my spiritual road may not have much to do with Gethsemene, Golgotha or Mary Magdalene’s astonishment at hearing ‘the gardener’ speak her name – but I couldn’t have written them without the reality of the pain and triumph of that weekend 2000 years ago.
Watching the bees in the laburnam tree
It seems they have ‘the knowledge’,
How to find the good in scented yellow blossom
Without imbibing poison from notorious pods.
I guess the seeds come later in the year,
A bitter twist, the sting in summer’s tail.
We tell our children not to taste the fruit…
A tree of good and evil you could say.
The bees choose wisely in this season of the sun
Directed in their dizzy dance they drink
Spring’s nectar, hidden in the flowers:
They’re nourished by a plant with seeds of death.
I too can choose to store my honey
In a hidden hive, a secret place;
To ‘make hay while the sun shines’,
Ignoring bitter future fruit
When life falls to the ground and winter comes.
I can’t believe there’s water in this rock
Its surface hard and rough beneath my hand;
It stands immovable, tall sentinel,
A landmark in this dry and barren land.
This is a desert journey, that’s for sure,
My vision hampered by the dust of death;
I’m climbing on a track of stones and dirt…
“Just lean upon this boulder now, draw breath”
So still, so wide, the view spread out below –
The bigger picture always makes more sense;
In looking back I see the way I’ve come
And trace the path from past to present tense.
This great rock in a thirsty land stands strong,
A shade and shelter when I’m hot and weak,
But how to call the hidden water forth?
Confront, push, strive – or strike its face, or speak?
It is a comfort to my weary back
As I sit down to rest my blistered feet;
Just waiting in its shadow bubbles rise…
The living water’s here, inside of me!
Blessings and joy to everyone: enjoy the holidays. He is risen indeed!