Monday, April 14, 2014

Cherry Blossoms and Holy Week Together: Must I Be Sad?

If I take their picture, will they last forever?
The cherry blossoms are finally in their glory.

I saw the pictures from the banks of the Potomac river in Washington D.C., but we have them here too, 70 miles away, lining Main Street Front Royal and popping up in clusters, here and there, all over town.

They are always a sign that Spring is taking hold. Some types have the cherry streaks, but many are bright white, as if the touch of warm air has transformed the very snow into flowers.

I realize that the lovely weather of recent days is going to cool off this week, and even bring some frost. Poor folk in the northeast and midwest are even supposed to get more snow! Oh, but it will melt right up.

While life bursts all around us, we walk the path of Holy Week. Perhaps that seems incongruous. Spring has finally come, and now we must be gloomy and think about death?

At this time of year, life is new and fresh and full of promise, but only for a season. The promise is fulfilled in growth and fruit and harvest, and then there is the sleep of Winter again. The beauty of things wounds us with longing. It whispers "forever" to our hearts and then it fades. Perhaps we should just not think about all that and simply enjoy the flowers. Still, the flowers will fade. The time will pass. The "forever" that life whispers... where in this world can we find it?

Holy Week is not a time to brood upon death. Death haunts us all the time (whether we brood or not). Death presses everywhere against the limits of our lives, in the exhaustion of our paltry loves, in the inexorable advance of weakness as all the seasons pass and the beauties fade.

Holy Week does not come to haunt us with death. It comes to awaken us to a greater hope.