Thoughts shared at an Easter fire near the Retreat House at sunrise
(Photo by Scot DeGraf)

Spring and Easter have been a long time coming. Last year, we celebrated Easter at the end of March. Today we are marking resurrection almost a month later. But more to the point, after more than 50 inches of snow total accumulations this winter, in storms that began the first days of December and were still befalling us on March 23, and with days of unrelenting, bitter cold, and temperatures at the vernal equinox still hovering in the 40s, it has seemed that a perverse test of endurance has been underway here on our mountain. I am all about the sacredness of thresholds and the in-between spaces, but this atrium between winter and spring has been less like crossing a lintel and more like trekking miles across frozen tundra.

Nor am I much in the mood to speak about the gift of waiting that makes the longed for sightings of robins and daffodils all the sweeter, nor about the virtues of patience and trusting in the long, slow work of God.

The sputtering ignition of spring, its fits and starts...a burst of forsythia one day and sleet the next; peepers in the pond followed by snow on the strawberry beds, has been wearisome. I was actually gladdened some days ago while walking along Grand Boulevard trail with little dog Erin to feel the tickle of tiny insects against my neck and their greeting whine in my ears. It's even heartening by this time to look up from chopping bell peppers at the kitchen counter and see the cowbird's brown head and glossy black presence at the feeder, though I know of that bird's murky reputation for thievery and mayhem.

We've been doing some reflective work here in the last six or seven months with the image of old story and new story, the idea being that our Western culture and we ourselves have been stuck in a paradigm, a narrative, that is not working, and that is, as a consequence, destroying the planet; but that we are re-awakening to another story, a deeper and even older one, that speaks of the connections between all beings and all life.

In the most recent retreat of this sort we spent a morning talking about miracles. To quote from Charles Eisenstein, (one of our resources for this retreat) miracles are not "the intercession of an external divinity in worldly affairs that violates the laws of physics, but something that is impossible from within an old Story of the world and possible from a new one." In other words, miracles are the in-breaking of the deeper story of connection into our dysfunctional story of separation.

In my observation, this in-breaking happens randomly, sporadically, often without glory or shine. Mary Oliver says, "It doesn't have to be the blue iris, it could be weeds in a vacant lot, or a few small stones;" and I would add, it could be spring, coming at last, in dribs and drabs, in piebald colors. It could be the cowbirds.

It makes me think about the mechanics of resurrection. Did Jesus burst from the tomb, full of light, one hundred percent ready to rock and roll? Or did he put one foot through the doorway, pull back, try a hand, finally stick his head out and sort of look around? I know I want to think of resurrection as the fully formed, easy, breezy kind; but my guess is that it's more of one day it's 75 degrees and the next day it's 30 type; one day the robin appears and the daffodils bloom, and the next there's a snow storm.

However wide the threshold or herky jerky, long, and even tedious the way across it, nevertheless, it is finally traversed. Last week, the temperatures warmed and plateaued pleasantly. Then the tree limbs sported tiny beads and tufts of coral, burgundy, and emerald. Now they are dressed in feathered green and the shad berry bushes (sometimes called june berries or service berries) with their tiny white blossoms, are dotting the forest like fairy lights in the woods. Spring and Easter have been a long time coming, but they are here. Hallelujah.