She’s blooming now, pure white leaf unfurled against a canopy of green.
It’s Good Friday. The Bright Saddness is nearly over. As the liturgy comes to an end today, the whole church will be stripped of its colors, the altar bare, no garments to hide the nakedness of our need. And then the lights will be blown out, one by one, till we leave in darkness and silence.
I eye the dogwood and want to push the fast forward button to the joy of Easter, the delight: “Christ is risen!”
But there is the darkness that will endure till the dawn of Sunday morning, when the light is carried back into the church; Friday evening and Saturday can’t be ignored. We know the rest of the story, but I wonder about the first family of faith, the apostles, the sisters in the faith gathered round them, the believers that believed before everything was made plain. What an aching trust that horrible Friday must have been! The grief and love that cried out to the heavens from their lips that day, not knowing the end of the story. Just knowing the need, and knowing that He was there to fulfill it, and that was enough. We call ourselves the Easter people, but what would it look like if we were the Good Friday people, too? What would make that horrible gray day Good? Trust. Faith. Hope. Surrender. Love. Above all, the greatest love.
Let me whisper to you the Story of the Good Friday people?
“And so the girls did what they would never have dared to do without his permission, but what they had longed to do ever since they had first saw him-buried their cold hands in the beautiful sea of fur and stroked it, and so doing, walked with him. And presently, they saw that they were going with him up the slope of the hill on which the Stone Table stood. They went up at the side where the trees came furthest up, and when the got to the last tree (it was one that had bushes about it) Aslan stopped and said,
Oh, children, children. Here you must stop. And whatever happens, do no let yourselves be seen. Farewell.”
-The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis. Chapter 14.
Let us bear witness. And let us trust the Lion of Judah?
I’ve walked in suffering the last three years, and it is this I return to. Good Friday people, Easter people? They walk in hope and trust. With sorrow at our sin, but with the glorious hope of Christ, and trust in His sacrifice. Even if things aren’t plain, even when things don’t make sense, even when it seems like our salvation is slipping away from us with tortured last life-breaths. To live Good Friday and Easter, I have to let it go. Only in the laying down can the trust be taken up, and the seed of Christ bloom.
If you look close, the reddened centers are just peeking about. I’ve seen the blue jay and mourning dove, woodpecker, sparrow, and cardinal all alight on her branches with their joyful trills. May I ever be like the dogwood, a place of safety; a place of testimony.