A Passage Through Thorns

On the way to the vernal pond, I notice how we can’t even approach it unless we pass through the thorns.  There’s no way around them. 

These thorns tangle and form a crown above us. 

This Easter, I think of the passage Christ paves through that crown of thorns he wore at the crucifixion.  And today, that beautiful resurrection means I enter in, and I’m free. 

A paradise awaits, but I have to pass through the thorns. 

 
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Journal:  He is risen indeed!  Have I walked through that free passage, marked by the crown of thorns?   

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My Easter Tantrums

I could chronicle my life in tantrums.

Two years ago, I demanded new Easter dresses and complained that we didn’t have reservations at the expensive place where all the neighbors have Easter brunch.  Can you believe it?  We were miserable in those dresses, and we changed into our shorts and t-shirts and ended up having a brunch of juice and popcorn out in the woods together.  Easter rose up in my heart that afternoon.

Last Easter, God reminded me of his grace when I witnessed a flair disaster.  It was a great Easter, and I didn’t even think about dresses or brunches or new hats and shoes.  We didn’t need any of it.   I actually woke up this morning thinking about how far I’ve come

But just now, I find myself complaining to my husband that he didn’t get the Easter Egg Coloring Kit.  I fall apart because we haven’t colored our eggs yet.  I actually raise my voice.  I’m throwing a tantrum about coloring eggs.  I thought I had come so far! 

I apologize to my husband and children, and as I stand in the kitchen, worrying that Easter’s not going to be good enough because the cookies aren’t right and the eggs aren’t colored, I let out a huge sigh and cry out, “I need the real Easter!  I need it so badly.” 

The real Easter is Jesus rising to save us from ourselves.  And just when I think I’m finished with these tantrums, I find the old self oozing out.  I’m glad it did.   I won’t ever not need Him.  I won’t ever be strong enough, mature enough, or wise enough to not need Jesus.  

I need the real Easter!  I need it so badly.

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Journal:  Will I find the real Easter?

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What Has to Die in Me?

This afternoon, I notice my winterberry bush budding in the backyard. 

Those blooms hold particular significance this Easter season because I’ve beheld their cycle this whole year.  I see death and resurrection, and I suddenly remember the importance of death

For months, this bush seemed more acquainted with death than life.    The brittle and barren branches! 

This bush endured the assault of ice storms.  Those branches seemed hopeless, trapped, and unchanging.

Things were being put to death in her.

Now, these new buds burst forth. 

I remember my winterberry bush when I think about God’s work in my life.  I go through seasons when things have to die in me.  The soul in winter feels like death, but with every burial, there’s a resurrection.  What will Jesus bring forth in us?  We await that bloom even when we cannot perceive the secret work happening deep within our souls.  

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Journal:  What has to die in me this Easter?  What will God bring forth? 

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The Flair Disaster

Today in church, during the most reflective part, a little girl in a soft pink Easter dress spilled her grape communion juice. It trickled down her dress and pooled on the floor beneath her sandals. I was sitting two rows behind her.

Quickly, her grandpa and grandma (who happened to be the pastor and his wife!) found a cloth and began to wipe her dress and the floor. Her father joined in, trying to minimize the damage. And then, her mother–hawk-like and decisive–turned from her seat at the end of the aisle and made her way to where her daughter sat.

I felt myself bristle. Would this mother scold? Would she grab her daughter and drag her out of the church, shaming her for distracting the other worshipers? Was the Easter dress expensive, and would the little girl be punished for staining it?

The mother leaned down to her daughter. I couldn’t see the daughter’s face, but she had her head down, shaking.

The mother took the child’s face in her hands, firmly, tilting the chin up.

Then, looking clearly into that little girl’s eyes, she kissed her cheek and smiled.

It’s Easter.

Something about the way that mother held the girl’s face, something about tilting a chin up, something about that soft kiss overwhelmed me. It was a picture of God’s grace: choosing to love and not shame, lifting a face, covering a stain with a kiss. It was Easter flair.

Maybe I was so struck because I studied the emotion of shame in graduate school. When we feel tormenting inferiority because of a shortcoming, the body’s response is to look down. We hide. We cannot endure the gaze of an audience.

But this mother tilted the child’s face up. By refusing to allow the shame response, this mother locked eyes with her daughter and gazed with love and unconditional acceptance.

Later, I saw that little girl laughing and running around at an Easter egg hunt. The bright stain on her dress made no difference to her. But it could have.

Living with flair means I take a face in my hands (even if it’s my own), tilt up the chin, and choose to love regardless of the deep stain. Who isn’t walking around with grape juice on their clothes? Who isn’t that child? Who doesn’t need a love like that?

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