I like it that Earth Day and Good Friday fall on the same day this year. This conjunction juxtaposes what appear to be celebrations of contradictory world views. And these kinds of coincidences are too much for me not to ponder.
Not to mention that, as I write this, the glory of spring threatens to burst through my very window. Rosy blossoms crowd the delicate limbs of the crabapple tree swaying in the breeze just outside. Bright sun beams through translucent petals, and I am repeatedly interrupted by their coy waves and brushing against the glass as I try to write a chapter of my book. I decide that this incessant intrusion of nature is in fact the beckoning to share thoughts I started pondering early this morning.
The conjoining of these two days of sacred reflection – one millennia old, the other mere decades, but with a lineage back to the earliest rites of our species – seems to me a beacon. A bit of light in the night sky calling our attention to look more closely at what appears to be a coincidence, and perhaps even an annoyance – one robbing the other of its primacy in the pantheon of tribute.
I contemplate Holy week and my own preparations for Easter day, which my family, rooted in Episcopalian and Methodist traditions but morphed into a more pagan treatment over the years, always celebrates together. I retell myself the story of Jesus’ betrayal, first by His kindred, then by His religion and the law, and finally by His community that led to His crucifixion on this day. And the deep and sacred meaning of this sacrifice, for which all Christians are grateful. A gratitude made possible by His forgiveness, heralded in the Resurrection.
I then turn my eyes to the transcendent blooms out my window, recalling the words of a poet I caught on NPR as I drove here today: “The earth forgives the previous year every year.” Spring does indeed feel like forgiveness – nature returning, first sweetly and oh so quiet with the first push of the crocus through the hardened soil, and then exuberantly as the crabtree in my window, dressed in a finery of brilliant color. Forgiveness of the sleep, the constant use, even the plunder that are the worn tracks of living. Life returning sparks the feeling of renewal inside me, renewal and possibility that bears the fruit of forgiveness, of myself and others. Seeing the spring, breathing its perfumes deep into my lungs, being lulled to rest by the rhythm of its rains upon my roof, all stir a profound and quiet gratitude.
And so then, how are these two celebrations different? Perhaps in word and rite, in locale, or frame of mind. But it seems to me there is so much more that is the same. Whether in a church or in the tawny field, with choir song or the trill of the meadowlark, bedazzled by the color made by sun through painted glass or sun through lucent petal, the message is one. A reminder, after death and sacrifice, of the infinite bosom of life-giving that is made known by the Eucharist and the lily, the crocus and the rain, the egg, the robin, by purple and by paperwhites.
I am not alone in the blogosphere on this contemplation today, but when I am ever? I add my musings to the collective sea of bits as a way to ritualize and pay tribute to both celebrations. GLORY.