In the world around us, an extreme and difficult winter buried many locations across the globe these past months, in a lifeless sleep that now is breaking. The most tender and delicate of spring flowers, arrayed in white, pale blue or yellow appear to challenge death’s finality, to renew our hope in beauty and life. Birds return, call to one another and, two by two, carry bits of grass and debris high into naked limbs, creating welcoming places for tiny hatchlings soon to arrive. Life renews itself again, as we expect it always will. Holy Week this year comes just now with the ending of this bitter winter and the rebirth of spring.
On Palm Sunday, the first day of Holy Week, Jesus entered Jerusalem surrounded by cheering throngs of admirers who were honoring and celebrating him and their hopes for his future and their own. Though not visible to the crowds, his heart was heavy. Within a few days he was abandoned by all. He was seemingly defeated, dejected, a bright star, fallen. On Good Friday, he willingly gave up his life. Three days later, as promised, he emerged from the tomb victorious, transformed, alive!
Our lives, too, are often full with times of victories and celebrations. We may be surrounded by loving family and friends, may have excellent health, the ideal job – or fantastic retirement, doors of welcome and opportunity may spring open to us. When changes occur in the lives we plan and live out, we may feel disappointment, anger, sorrow, uncertainty, confusion. Our “holy week” arrives with paradox; with celebration of life and the surety of death. Oftentimes we find we must let go of what was in order to have what is yet to be. We know the promise of transformation and new life coming after our many deaths. Goodness does return along with strength and confidence. Willingly, we let die what must so that we may, once again, choose life. We may not fully know what will be next. We do know that winter ends, spring returns, fragile and beautiful; it matures and deepens into another bountiful harvest. This is an eternal promise.
Leonard Cohen created a haunting musical arrangement of F. R. Scott’s poem “Villanelle for Our Time.” Cohen extracts and emphasizes these lines:
this is the faith from which we start
from bitter searching of the heart
we rise to play a greater part….
May your Holy Weeks be blessed!
O O O O O O O O