I almost didn’t get to Easter Morning Prayer, which I happened to be leading. I stepped out the front door of my house at 6:15 a.m., only to take a very quick step backward. For there on the driveway (between me and my bike), rummaging through a messy smear of garbage, was a skunk. This, of course, was not your lovely Disney-skunk named Flower – this was a waddling, foraging fellow from whom I wanted to keep my distance.
It didn’t take much to scare him off – a bit of banging and shouting and he went scampering behind the neighbour’s house. But this was not the auspicious start to Easter morning that I had been hoping for. I was reminded of John Visser’s recent assertion (I wholeheartedly agree) that natural metaphors simply can’t capture the truth of resurrection. The skunk proves it!
On the other hand, I was confronted this past weekend with a more hopeful natural metaphor – by way of my Tomato seeds. Our CSA farmer (community supported agriculture) has the most delicious variety of cherry tomatoes. So in the Fall I decided to take seeds from a few tomatoes, dry them, and plant them this spring – which I did almost two weeks ago. But after almost two weeks, there was no sign of growth. I even dug out one of the seeds to see if there was any action. Nothing! So I stopped watering.
Then, on Good Friday (once again, this is a natural metaphor FAIL!), signs of growth. I had given up on my tomato seeds, but it was simply a matter of a little patience – and, perhaps, a little less cynicism. Now there are 6 little plants pressing up out of the soil. I’m reminded of the last stanza of a favorite Wendell Berry poem of mine:
The stem bent, pent in seed, grows straight
And stands. Pain breaks in song. Surprising
The merely dead, graves fill with light
Like opened eyes. He rests in rising.