After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” Matthew 1:1-10 (NIV)
A few years ago, when horses, then writing, then, glass work took over my life, I had to admit there wasn’t enough time in the day to do it all and garden. As much as my large rose bed, pond and smaller garden areas around the house gave me pleasure, I could no longer spend all day Saturday and most of Sunday afternoon weeding and pruning them. So, I closed my eyes and let husband plow them under. But, I kept a bed of antique roses in front of the house and a small pond surrounded by flowers by the back door. This winter was not kind to that little garden. Record lows took their toll, and many of the plants suffered frost bite. They stand black and crispy. The pond overfilled with rainwater and could not hold the weight so developed a crack in its side. It is almost empty now. Because I was afraid I might get sick and not be able to participate in the Easter pageant, this month, I avoided being outside amongst the pollen. Weeds grew up among the flowers that remained, and the coral vine on the arbor spread its tendrils across the wrought iron bench strangling a pot of daisies. The pot of lettuce, a gift from a friend, grew tall and stringy. The nasturtiums planted in September anticipating a fall bloom developed large green plants, but only just recently started to flower. Every time, I walk past that space and into my back door, I cringe a little. It needs some work. But, with the arrival of Easter, I have a new appreciation for what that flower bed represents. As much as we might hope, just becoming a Christian and putting our lives in the Hands of God, does not guarantee sunny skies and warm temperatures. As long as we walk this earth, winds will blow. Hardships will still come. Disease will ravage. What separates us is the ability to find joy even in the most desperate of circumstances. Not happiness which is dependent upon our circumstances, but joy which includes contentment, satisfaction and an elation no matter what else is happening in our lives. Joy catches us by surprise. The dance of grass blowing in the wind. The laughter of a child. The song of a bird. The kindness of a friend. Joy reminds us that the future will not always be so bleak. As I look at my garden, I see past the dead, brown leaves to individual flashes of what has been and what will be again. Bright orange and gold nasturtiums. Pink trumpets of coral vine. Smiling white blossoms. A flag that proclaims, “Celebrate With Joy!” Because of Easter and what it means, Christ’s resurrection, and the Salvation that He grants to us by grace alone, I can do exactly that. And so can you. Celebrate With Joy! No matter what your circumstances, He is risen! And that makes all the difference. Happy, happy Easter!