Is the Spring coming?' he said. ‘What’s it like?'… 'It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine, and things pushing up and working under the Earth.' (Francis Hodgson Burnett: 1911).
This conversation took place between Mary Lennox and Colin Craven, a young boy who had been confined to his bed and was experiencing the Secret Garden for the first time. What a wonderful time of year, when life begins to blossom again and we enjoy longer days, warmer air and this year, look forward with hope to gradually moving out of lockdown.
There is something quite magical about the reappearance of plants in the garden – plants that disappeared from sight in the winter but produce new green shoots with a promise of colour and beauty to come. I have been watching the blue tits reassembling in the small tree near the birdbox where they nested last year, and I am looking forward in anticipation of another new family of baby blue tits. A pair of wrens have started to frequent the garden and a thrush sings to me every morning. The dawn chorus alerts us to the start of a new day, with its range of calls, and trills as the birds defend their territories and attract a mate. When we lived in Northern Argentina, the first sign of spring was the flowering of the pink lapacho tree, similar in colour to the beautiful pink blossom of the cherry tree in the Rectory garden.
That first Easter must have felt a little like this process from winter to spring. The confusion, anxiety and stress that the disciples and other friends, including Mary the mother of Jesus, must have felt – from the high point of a triumphant entry into Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday, to the intimacy of the Last Supper, quickly followed by the shock of Jesus’ arrest and trial. Even worse, the crucifixion, this excruciating form of death, popular with the Roman Emperors, for the worst criminals. And then, when his death had been certified, he was finally laid to rest in a cave in a garden sealed with a large stone, as was the custom of the time. All this was observed by the disciples and close friends. For them this must have been the darkest of times.
And yet, in that garden where the body of Jesus had been left, his friends discovered the cave was empty, and they later met him – alive again. This account of the resurrection of Jesus has given fresh hope to people all over the world. The resurrection repeats the refrain of Christmas – Emmanuel, God with us.
As we enjoy the newness of life and look forward to renewing our relationships with our families and friends in the coming weeks and months, may we all experience the encouragement of God with us, giving us hope for our futures and joy in each new day.
God bless, Bill