Wild Bluebonnets - An Easter Weekend Reflection
Throughout 2020, PTC will be offering spiritual reflections from teachers, school leaders, and pastors. It is our hope that these reflections offer comfort and challenge during these days of pandemic.
Today's reflection, originally written for Good Friday, comes from Emily Sharp. Emily is an ordained Baptist deacon and an 8th grade public school teacher in Texas.
2020 Lent is at its hardest day today. For many, THE hardest day. Someone quipped that the Coronavirus Pandemic will be remembered as the Lentiest Lenten time for many reasons. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, behaviorally, intellectually, geographically, economically, we are drained: by news, by new ways of doing things, by isolation, by worry, by the unknown, by our anxious inadequacy to do anything about it except stay six feet apart and make the best of cabin fever, all while making sure we don’t run a fever in the process.
We have been helpless this Lenten season in many ways. And our way of living may have to change, yet.
Noting these realities and needing beauty to combat them on this solemn day, I headed to the highway – Texas highways south of here – to find beauty in wild bluebonnets, Indian red paintbrush, random fields of goldenrod, and blessed sunshine.
Every time I passed a clump of wild blue, my heart leapt a little. Random, unnoticed beauty, so very pleasing, luscious, even extravagant in its presence at every turn of the road. Bluebonnets and wildflowers mysteriously growing through the mask of winter ground.
It did help, too, that the light was right and the sky was filled with defiant sunshine, the weather a perfect 73 degrees. People in their isolation were together, six feet apart, admiring the gorgeous displays at Bluebonnet Farm near Ennis, Texas. It was as if we were in a living art exhibition and were part of the show. Children dressed up and complaining of having to be posed were, in their wildness, difficult to corral. The elderly took walks on paths in a forest, their canes steadying themselves for one more reassurance of wild bluebonnets in spring.
I’m mindful today that Jesus welcomed wildness. In fact, the call of the wild plan of God to him and through him is not really recorded as any difficult reaction from an unruly son. We know he wept. We know his parents lost him once in the temple and he was not upset – they were. We know he cried out for his mission to be removed – once. We know that he is the center of one of the wildest stories ever told: an outlaw-holy-human king, betrayed by his semi-comedic followers, murdered because he was completely good, and crucified on a cruel tree to demonstrate God’s beautiful love for his creation.
Why do I connect my life to this wild man? I just thought the Baptizer was wild, what with his eating locust fare, his needing a haircut, and his skin-clothing scratchy. But maybe that was from wearing them day after day, in perhaps a self-imposed desert distancing. Today I am drawn to Jesus’ wildness, though. His wild obedience to God’s command and call on his life to the point of death. His wild trust in the love of his Father, even unto his own bodily harm, not unlike our great physicians and nurses everywhere this day. His wild love for humanity of every kind. His wild understanding of what human suffering was like. His wild hospitality, together with his wild, humanly-distant prayer life.
His is the wild essence of belief. His is the deep, natural, intentional relationship with the Holy One who reassured and blessed his out-of-the-box instincts through honest counsel and conversation. Jesus' story is the wild finishing of his faith when he walked out of that tomb, on the other side of death. Yes. His was the wild finishing of his faith. And we get to celebrate it with him this weekend.
In Jesus, we see the wild finishing of the story that each of us longs for – and it is unique to us. Through whatever suffering we may face, each one of us will flex this Time’s muscle of resilience that I believe is gifted to each of us through endurance. And every one of us must endure, even through the present pandemic. Even through whatever comes.
I am wildly encouraged this season by responsible people’s imaginative resilience in social media, music, art, masks of every sort, and doing the hard work each is gifted to do to man our distant posts and get through this present danger. Students and the young adapting for each other, their professors, their parents, their grandparents – everyone learning to Zoom and being there to help each other through. And this is why I’m drawn to this wildness: I know and do believe in God with all of my heart. But the terrific thing I am assured of today is this: GOD BELIEVES IN US.
God believes we can answer every disease with a cure. God believes we can do all the paperwork necessary for people to get loans. God believes we can protect the most vulnerable. God believes we can figure out how to have school. God believes in our attorneys and our doctors and our restauranteurs and our hairdressers and our bankers to use their positions for the healing of the world. God believes that every last one of us has the capacity to help the world if we are humble enough to ask for the power that overcame the cross.
This is the wild crux of God’s love (John 3:16), exhibited through Jesus’ wondrous story of partnership with God and with us. God loves us through Jesus and through the difficult details of endurance, and we must never forget it.
If we do not understand God’s steadfast devotion to us by now, we have missed everything about Jesus’ story. In fact, we have missed the point of Christianity itself. God is wildly devoted to you and to me, through whatever comes and afterward.
And when we discipline ourselves to power through with our own wild devotion, our self-imposed fear-tombs will open. And then, in time, our six-feet-under social-distancing and our grief for the dead and life’s terrible sufferings will be relieved as if God’s own Self placed a cool cloth on our feverish foreheads. And we will know the hard-won finishing-place of our faith. For this two-way love affair, begun by God, is destined for a new place: a place where God’s mysterious Other-glory, combined with our own humble belief, will be the newest wild thing.
Lift up your unmasked hearts. Hang on, dear ones, and keep the faith with me. For a wild Glory awaits.
Emily F. Sharp