Thursday, April 12, 2012

Flowers from the Dumpster

(I accidentally partially posted this earlier in the week.  Here's the whole thing. Oops!)

(our current church)
It is the afternoon of Easter. While my family naps off the morning festivities, I hunt for boxes.  We are moving across the state soon.

I find the holy grail for movers... the “cardboard only” trash bin behind a nearby grocery.  Within moments I am shoving empty Lays Potato Chip and Sister Schubert’s Roll cases tightly into the trunk and back seat. I look down. I am still wearing my Easter dress.

Classy. Dumpster diving in a brand new sundress.

Easter is like that, though. At first glance, it’s all pastel and smiles and finely pressed linen, chocolates and toys. We’ve turned it into a day to hide our junk. Shine your shoes and sing “Shine Jesus Shine.”  You’d think on the holiday that celebrates Christ’s death, we’d remember true beauty is battered and bloody. Even the resurrected Christ bore scars.
(will be our church)
Today, I’m hiding a lot of junk. My youngest daughter came unglued at church this morning.

Normally, Amelia thrives at our church.  After all, the congregation adopted Amelia almost as much as we did.  But this holiday brought hundreds of unfamiliar faces.  Amelia clung tightly to my legs, fearing she’d float away in the sea of brand new worshippers. She laid on her back, shrieking in the Sunday school doorway as I left her, convulsing like a fish out of water. My stomach twisted sick.

“If new crowds undo her, will a move across the state crush her?”  I think this as I drive, cardboard moving boxes scratching each other loudly. My raw nerves rub together even louder.

At home, I unload the empty boxes from the car. I exchange my Easter dress for sweats and a gray t-shirt. Pastel perfection is over. My emotions are stripped sore, no longer hidden by congenial smiles. I begin the hard work of packing all we own.

I open the pantry and fill a box with glass sugar jars, salt and pepper shakers, vitamins. Out of the cabinet falls a tiny packet of seeds. I tear a corner off the paper and pour them in my hand.

Bury a seed in the earth, and it will rise in newness of life.
Kernels of hope. Promises to be fulfilled in blooms.

I lean against a cardboard box and think about moving, Amelia, pain, and change.  I could use some seeds of hope.

Change is hard. Even the change that bought our salvation came tear-stained, beaten, bruised, and bloody. The Son of God died! It was ugly.

The sky went black.

The veil tore.

Ghoulish bodies rose from their graves.

Jesus’ disciples fell to their knees, weeping despair and wondering if they’d given their lives to a cause as fragile and temporal as human life…

…as fragile and temporal as a flower’s petal.

When the One they lived for died, did they dare still cling to tiny seeds of hope?

Did they weep as Jesus' body, like a seed, was buried in the dark places of the Earth?

I turn the paper seed packet over in my hand to see an image of tiny blue flowers. I remember…

Easter morning, my girls and I had woven freshly cut front-yard roses into a tall floral cross standing in  the church lobby. The seven foot tall kaleidoscope crucifix wore stunning bright sunflowers, hydrangeas, spider lilies, and daises. Far more pleasing visually than the rough, blood-stained beams of Good Friday.

Flowers growing out of an instrument meant to bring capital punishment to God Himself.

Life blooming in color and brilliance, thanks to the Savior the grave could not hold.

The stench of Jesus’ death swallowed by the fragrance of fresh life.

And it all started with a seed of hope…

Planted in a dark, uncertain tomb…

Raised to bloom in newness of life.

Change is hard. Our family may feel beaten and bloody by the time we finish this move towards new life. We may feel as if we’re being buried in the dark depths of the earth. And perhaps, that is exactly what is happening to our family. Like the resurrected Christ, we may rise from the dust and cardboard boxes with some deep new scars.

After all, scars bring life.

We die with Christ that He may become life in us. We are seeds, entering darkness and uncertainty, trusting He will cause us to bloom out of decaying crucifix wood. We are the aroma of Christ; a fragrant bouquet, growth constrained to the exquisite cruciform shape of His death.

The question is, do we trust Him enough to enter the uncertainty? To be planted in the ground of whatever He has for us?

I seal a moving box closed and take a deep breath, noticing the scent of Easter lilies from across the kitchen.  I too, will enter the  the tomb of unknowns.  I agree to be planted in the black fertile soil of struggle, which God will use to create new life.

Father, I believe. Help my unbelief.


L.O.T. said...

Beautiful post. Your writing is just so ARTisticly composed!

RACHEL said...

You're so silly :)