Life is so very fragile.
The week after Easter, it seems to me, is a time of sighing. It is like the denouement after a great event, the quiet reflection after giving birth, the aftermath after a celebration. The week before Easter we walk the Way of the Cross, to the Cross, crucifixion, death, burial. Then, on Easter Sunday, we are resurrected.
We are resurrected to who we are and who we are meant to be. The spidery webs of confused versions of who we are not – spun around us by our culture – are wiped clean and we see clearly we are God’s children, loved and cherished by him. We sing praises on Easter Day, we flower the white Easter cross, we inhale the pungent lilies adorning the altar. We are happy, because we know who we are and who we are meant to be. We are loved.
Then, we ease back to a quieter time of rejoicing, and as the week after Easter passes, the lilies on the altar grow more intense in their fragrance, so that by today, the Sunday after Easter, the power of their aroma owns the nave. It is good that the the lilies are still there, still reminding us that we are resurrected, reminding us who we are, that we are resurrected children of God.
For this last week we have re-entered the outside world of confusion and whim, danger and lawlessness. A friend’s granddaughter, seventeen, survived a car crash, but remains in the hospital mending many broken bones, with her spleen now removed. She is young, they say, and will recover. She was lucky, they say. But, I thought as I gazed into her grandmother’s grief-stricken eyes, one moment she was driving to school, looking forward to graduation, and the next she was seriously hit in an intersection. How horrible. How fragile we are.
The following day I noticed my wallet was missing. I retraced my steps. Had it really been four days since I had seen it? With Easter preparations and church, it had been four days, indeed. We cancelled the credit cards, and I stood in line at the DMV to replace my license. I cursed the person that grabbed my wallet from the counter or the cart or wherever I had left it in a moment of distraction. Suddenly my identity was lost, owned by another. The plastic cards that defined who I was were gone – so where was I? A deep sense of loss settled in with my initial outrage.
Life is so fragile. I turn out my light at night with the certainty that I will awake in the morning. Will I? I make plans, but will I live to see them fulfilled? What will happen tomorrow, the next day, the day after?
So this morning when I was reminded that I am a child of God, a beloved person with a unique identity, cherished by my creator and heading home one day to eternal life with him, I was grateful, I was steadied. Certainty returned.
The lilies in my house fill the rooms with their aroma. I have nipped a few of the white trumpeting blossoms that were beginning to droop, and the closed ones have opened in turn. I add a little water each day to their loamy beds, to the dark soil behind the pink crinkly wrap, and they drink it, thirsty. Life rises through the roots, through the thick green stalks, through the green fronds that arc like dancers arms, up to the white flowers that seem to shout hope out loud.
So I treasure the aroma of the lilies and hold onto God’s promises of resurrection. I hold on to his commandments too, and try to be faithful each Sunday in church. For who knows what the next day, hour, minute might bring. Mary Magdalene reached to touch the risen Christ in that garden of burial. Just so, we reach for him too, like those white trumpet blossoms. We reach to touch him with song, sacrament, and scripture. The Church gives us a way to do that, and this makes me happy and ever-thankful.
Life may be fragile, but God has given us a way to touch him, to be filled with his strength, and to know who we are and who we are meant to be.