This is indeed a holy week as Jews celebrate Passover and Christians celebrate Easter. Both holidays (holy days) are a celebration of new beginnings, of movement from bondage to freedom, from death to life. All around us this time of year, there are abundant signs of rebirth: buds on the trees, robins returning, and bunnies and eggs every where we turn. For me though, there is always a sign that is a more meaningful indicator of new life this time of year, and that is that the ground begins to soften. First the snow melts, and then gradually the ground that has been hidden all winter begins to soften.
I love being able to move my runs off the concrete sidewalks and on to the soft earth which provides welcome cushioning to my aching back. 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 means that soccer season, and baseball season are not far away, and also that the grass will soon turn green and flowers will begin to emerge. The softer earth gives rise to so many miraculous expressions of new life. Soft ground will probably never replace bunnies and eggs as a sign of new life. It's hard to imagine how Hallmark or Walgreen's could market the image of the ground softening. But I offer you this image because I think it such a great metaphor for what real resurrection, what real escape from bondage looks and feels like.
I know because I see it in my office every day, in my work as a pastor 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, or 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. And just as when the earth begins to soften, when the heart/mind/soul begins to soften there is lots of moisture, lots of tears. 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 touch and hug and make love who haven't done so for a long time. There is laughter where once there was criticism. There is joy where there once was shame and guilt. There is freedom where there once was bondage. There is life where there once was death.
Whether you celebrate Easter, Passover or simply the new life that is Spring, my wish for you is the abundance of new life that comes when that which has been hardened begins to soften.
P.S. Last week I wrote about the importance of timeouts. I will be on vacation next week, taking a timeout, and so the Weekly Words of Wellness will return the following week.