April 20, 2014 | The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner
"The Ground Begins to Soften"
For those of us who celebrate Easter in the northern hemisphere, we are blessed to have abundant symbols of resurrection and rebirth all around us as we celebrate this most joyous holy day. We are blessed to enjoy the new buds on the trees, the return of robins and other birds that have been south for the winter, the lengthening of the days, and the overall warming temperatures. For me, though, there is one sign in nature that is the most meaningful indicator of new life this time of year, one that is probably easy to overlook...the ground beginning to soften.
First the snow melts, and then gradually the ground that has been frozen and covered all winter begins to thaw and soften. One thing I love about the ground beginning to soften is that I am able to move my morning runs off the concrete sidewalks and onto the soft earth, which provides welcome cushioning to my aging joints. Softening ground is wet ground this time of year and I love the squishing sound that my shoes make with every step I take. The softer ground also means that soccer and baseball games will soon be played again and that those with green thumbs will soon be digging in their gardens. The softer earth gives rise to so many wonderful stirrings of new life.
As we celebrate Easter today, we are not just a celebrating something that happened almost 2000 years ago; we are also celebrating the truth that God continues to make things new, that God continues to bring life out of death. The image of the ground beginning to soften is a vivid metaphor of what it feels like when God is doing a new thing in our lives.
I know this feeling in my own life and I see it in my work as a priest and a therapist. People usually come to see me because life has become hard for them. Literally. They come in with hearts, minds, souls and even bodies that have become hardened and rigid. They come alone or they come with their loved one or they bring their whole family because everyone has become hardened to each other. This hardness is usually the result of frozen sadness or hurt, or unresolved conflict or grief and the hardness has built up over a long period of time.
Why have they come? Because deep down, they don't want to be hard-hearted, hard-minded, or hard-spirited, towards themselves or towards the people they love most. Deep down, a small, still voice longs for something different. And because they are willing to listen to this longing, slowly, imperceptibly at first, a miracle begins to happen. The ground begins to soften. The softening heart/mind/soul, just like the softening earth, soon gives rise to all kinds of miraculous new life. People forgive each other and they forgive themselves. People who haven't done so for a long time touch and hug again. There is laughter where once there was criticism and hurt. There is joy where there once was shame and guilt. Grief gradually loosens it's grip. There is freedom where there once was bondage. There is life where there once was death. Resurrection happens.
We at Living Compass wish all of you a Happy Easter. May your hearts and souls be softened today by the presence of the One who continues to bring life out of death.
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