Well Palm Sunday was a big success… clown noses and funny hats, shower heads and white carnations. I’m so thankful for folks ages 6 to 70 who were willing to dramatize some holy foolishness, and for a congregation that got it.
On to Holy Week.
If you’re not following Colossal, why on earth not? It’s an incredible collection of artistic goodness. Oh, if I had a projector and screen in the Tiny Church sanctuary… We are applying for a grant from the presbytery’s transformation project for exactly that, and boy, it cannot come fast enough.
Actually, that’s right. It can’t come fast enough because, if I had a projector this Sunday for Easter, I know what I would do.
Disclaimer: Even as I feel drawn to these images, I know they are not enough. The springing of spring is not deep enough. Easter is several orders of magnitude beyond that. But how does one preach resurrection? One leans heavily on the simile and prays it is enough, but we all know good and well that preaching resurrection is something like rendering the Sistine Chapel with stick figures. In crayon with stick figures.
Several years ago the Massachusetts Mental Health Center was slated for demolition. The MMHC had been in operation for something like 90 years and the building… well, it was old and rundown but also full of memory, sadness and hope. How to commemorate it? Artist Anna Schuleit decided to fill it with 28,000 potted plants. The photos are tender and touching. Here are just a few:
That is something like resurrection, no? Especially in Mark’s eerie, unsettling gospel account. Resurrection is incongruous in that landscape. It sprouts up out of our own dingy existence, making it new, but not unrecognizably new. We are still in this world, yes? Just transformed somehow. There’s a “blank, unholy surprise” to it, to quote Macaulay Connor.
The wooly bear caterpillar lives in the arctic and when spring begins, it eats like crazy, trying to amass enough weight to be able to spin its cocoon and become a moth. It takes 14 years to complete that process. Each winter in the meantime it hibernates, sort of. Unlike some animals, whose metabolisms simply slow way down, the wooly bear caterpillar freezes solid. Its heart stops beating. Its gut freezes, then its blood. It is not, in fact, dead; but one couldn’t be blamed for writing it off as such: motionless, crusted over with ice.
But then in the spring, it wiggles into existence once more, and that relentless lurch toward change begins again. I love this. As someone who seems destined to learn the same lessons again and again, whose growth is slow, whose need for transformation doesn’t coincide with a nice, pat, yearly CLANG! of Easter, I am heartened that God’s new and renewing world has space for a caterpillar whose heart thuds to life again and again and again.
Two years ago on Easter I compared Jesus to a gopher. Maybe this year it’ll be the wooly bear.