by Rev. Peter E. Bauer
Several years ago, make that almost 10 years ago now, my wife and I planted some trees at our house in our backyard. Over time, the trees have greened and have got10 bigger. Last Summer, a freak minor tornado hit my neighborhood block. No major damage, thankfully, but one of the trees, the peach tree is now leaning as it grows larger. Fortunately, it was ripped out of the ground by the force of the wind. We did lose a Mesquite tree, but suffice to say, we have plenty of firewood for several years, if not beyond.
What is noticeable this year is that the peach tree is producing peaches. We should get a fairly good crop. I need to get bird netting so that the fruit will be protected from the birds and the squirrels, especially those later pesky animals that always defy imagination as to how they will get something appealing hanging on a tree.
I’m glad that the tree is producing peaches this year. It has survived drought and heavy downpours and strong wind and still it persists. As humans, we too can find ourselves surviving much- threats to our health, friends who are about to face surgery, changes in assignments regarding our jobs, and as we have seen nationally changes in political leadership and in domestic and foreign policy that leave many concerned.
For me, I take comfort that this tree has survived. I find it hopeful that the tree will be producing bounty. Also after the fruit is shed off of the tree, that the tree will also hopefully to continue to bear more produce in the coming years.
Spring does tell us that new life emerges, sometimes in ways that we do not expect, sometimes through means that we can’t understand or fathom. As new life and new beauty emerges, the question arises what “newness”can emerge for our lives now? What new skills, what new perspectives, what new people to love might emerge for us now?
Easter started as a pagan ritual, a tradition going back to the Romans and before celebrating fertility and the rebirth of the earth. The early followers of Jesus and what was to become the early church codified Easter as the celebration and remembrance of Jesus’s resurrection, his triumph over death. By the time of the third century there was an intricate ceremony of baptism and initiation called the Didache. This elaborate ceremony literally had new believers being baptized naked in a body of water and then being clothed in a new robe and then being fed a mixture of milk and honey. This ritual literally marked the ending of an old life and the beginning of a new one.
It’s interesting that now instead of speaking about new life this time of year, we spent time talking about bunnies, Easter eggs and chocolate. All of these things are wonderful and they speak about the greatness of the creation, of the kingdom of God.
The truth is that all of us are growing, whether we want to acknowledge it at times or not. Like my peach tree, which is now leaning, and yet still is producing fruit, we continue and we move on. The challenge becomes what do we want leave as our bounty, as our legacy for the world? Do we want to achieve a lot, consume a lot, conquer and control a lot? If so, we will be like a tornado that hits a plot of ground and upends and turns things over.
Would be rather instead want to be steady, patient and generous with the gifts that we possess and wish to share with others, especially those who are in dire need?
Like the turning of the seasons, the beauty and brightness of Spring will inevitably be followed by the heat of Summer, the warmth of Autumn foliage and the cold winds of Winter. As we mark these changes in the natural world, I hope that we can all stay connected to what the earth and to what nature can give us.
A sense of solidarity, of predictive order and chaos and the ability to see our lives as part of a bigger inter-connective web of existence.
May we be comforted in that we don’t know it all, and that we can enjoy the miracle of being surprised even when we least expect it.
Yes, the peaches are emerging.
May it be so.