Hurricane Ike toppled the young sweet gum tree in our back yard. The moment the storm passed, we pulled it back to vertical and staked it in hope that new roots would form and that Spring would bring bare branches back to life. As winter days grew longer and warmer, we watched and hoped. Was there any life in those bare branches?
Several weeks ago buds began to swell and the vigil became one of eager expectation. Friday was the first day of Spring and I spent it tending my neglected garden. In the morning, the sweet gum’s buds were hard, tight, closed. Each hour’s warmth and light worked upon the buds, growing them fat and long and coloring their tips blood red. Shortly after noon, the first tiny leaf unfolded and unfurled, followed quickly by others. By Sunday morning the tree was covered with leaves growing large and more numerous by the moment. My tree is green and growing. Hallelujah!
On my knees in a garden, I realize that for a long winter I have been a bare branch; I have been hard and tight and closed. Suddenly I am in prayer, fervently wanting to be opened, unfolded, unfurled. In eager expectation I am tempted to rush toward renewed life, to shout “Hallelujah!” I am tempted to hurry Easter, but resurrection life, like a budding branch, cannot be rushed.
So I will spend a short season in waiting; I will take time to repent, to be rooted and grounded anew, to become slowly and fully aware of the warmth and light that Christ brings to the world. I will remember the shouts of praise that turned in a week to betrayal and a cross. I will count the cost of the love that rolled the stone from the tomb.
Oh, Lord, come Easter in me and once more I will be green and growing.