Thursday, April 1, 2010

High desert lilies inspire Easter contemplation

By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — How will you celebrate Easter today?
I’ve been monitoring the progress of my back patio lilies during this strange, hot and cold, sandblasted early spring.
Or I think they’re lilies. My visiting soul mate, a day lily aficionado, said those hopeful green shoots look like potential lilies to him. They’ve already been though a lot in high desert county, but seem determined to grow and bloom.
So it seems appropriate this Easter season, to sit in the sun and ponder one of my favorite quotes from the Son.
“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these,” Jesus advises in Matthew 6:28-29.
It’s a nice reminder that no matter how compelled we might be to gild the lilies in our lives, there’s no way to improve on the originals, the handiwork, for those of us who believe, of our Creator.
It’s something to think about in this time of new growth, planting seeds and resurrection.
There are so many things to contemplate during this holy season.
Jesus’ hopeful, joyous entrance into Jerusalem, remembered on Palm Sunday. A celebration and acknowledgment of a life well-lived, of healing and miracles.
The communion of the Last Supper, the horrors and betrayals, the Sanhedrin trial and the crucifixion.
And finally, the resurrection.
Every year, since I first heard the Easter story, it’s meant something a little different to me, with meanings that get richer and deeper. And somehow, it’s easier to feel closer to the real story here in desert county, away from the easier green springs of gentler climates.
In the secular world, for many, Easter is a less important holiday than, say, Christmas. There are fewer lilies to gild. The preparations, gifts, foods and the decorations seem lighter, more frivolous even, than the marathon Christmas holiday celebrations.
But Easter’s lessons are tougher. For those who focus on the spiritual meanings, Christmas seems easier, somehow, less complex than the messages of Easter. Christmas poses tests of faith for young Mary and Joseph, and the darkness of Herod’s slaughter of the innocents, but most of us dwell primarily on of the birth of the baby Jesus, the joyous angels and shepherds.
Christmas is remembering, with presents of our own, the gifts of the Magi, those holy and perceptive souls who recognized signs, portents and prophecies.
Easter is coming to terms with difficult, grown-up truths, like Jesus overturning the tables of the moneychangers at the temple, a vehement and dangerous stand taken against exploitation by those who turned a house of prayer into “a den of thieves.”
Christmas is peace on Earth, goodwill toward men.
Easter is acknowledgment of a more complex and paradoxical message in Matthew 10:34-39: "Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” To slay evil, to sever ties and delusions that blind us to higher truths. It’s a challenging, perplexing message that we lesser morals have sometimes tried to use to justify unjust wars, when we should have been facing and battling against our own demons within.
Christmas is promise and hope.
Easter is sacrifice, awareness and agony, courage and faith, tortuous transitions, wisdom and enlightened compassion, learning to make distinctions between lies and truth ...
Easter is an agonizing promise kept, mature hope fulfilled. And the truly joyous message that someone has traveled that narrow, difficult way before us, and left a well-blazed trail.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at dmoore@lcsun-news.com

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