What does resurrection mean to you?
This past week, the pastor of my church commissioned us to write and create pieces that allow us to express our interpretation of the Resurrection (we are collectively a very artsy community). As I was thinking about what the Resurrection means to me (other than the cross, Good Friday, Easter Eggs, and Sunday brunch, etc.), deep grief and deep joy arose in me. In this time of Lent, we have collectively been put through 40+ days of uncertainty, pain, loss, grieving, and doubt. And we will probably still have to endure this even after Easter’s promise. However, despite our trying times Easter is still a time of celebration amidst the acknowledgement of suffering. Most Israelites were still grieving even after the news of Jesus’ death, as are we grieving the loss of life before COVID-19.
As a church body, we are called to celebrate. As I think about what the notion of coming back to life means for me, I can’t help but think about the current political moment. I’m sure most people (including myself) are nowhere near ready or capable of celebrating anything. Everything seems to be whirling in chaos, confusion, and panic. However, the term “resurrection” calls me to witness the revival of all things, not just our faith lives or our physical bodies.
I recently started using a planner to plan my days and set goals for myself (which is huge because I don’t plan anything). As I was thinking about what I wanted this week’s intention to be, the phrase “worship the Earth” just spilled out from my mouth onto my pen. It felt like it came out of nowhere. At first, it seemed to have absolutely nothing to do with Easter. But then I remembered one of my favorite Rumi quotes I learned during my JV year:
There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
To me, this quote opens up the notion that environmental awareness is a call to worship.
During my daily walks, I smell the roses blooming in my neighbor’s yard. When I go to get groceries, I notice the beauty of the sunset over the mountains. When I’m driving with my windows down, I notice that the air looks and smells cleaner. In this Lenten journey, I made a commitment to notice one act of God every day. The effects of the shelter-in-place regulations have guided me to become more aware of my outdoor surroundings because I’m suddenly much more thankful for them. After staring at a screen all day, I feel God’s presence so much more in the smell of the orange tree coming from across the street.
It occurred to me that one of the major factors of joy right now are thousands of small resurrections happening within our wildlife ecosystems. Some of the many small revivals I’ve witnessed have been in the changing quality of our global air pollution. According to BBC, “carbon monoxide mainly from cars had been reduced by nearly 50% compared with last year.” This map shows the intense decrease in nitrogen dioxide levels over China in the past few months. In Los Angeles — the city of overcrowded highways and toxic gas emissions — the “air quality last month was the best that L.A.’s seen in at least 40 years.” As I step outside into the street, I can actually see a bright blue sky amidst fresh white clouds. While it may not be completely sustainable or world-changing, it is certainly hopeful that our Earth is finally able to breath again.
To me resurrection is noticing the nourishment that comes from the clean rain. It’s giving thanks for the bright sun even if I get a slight burn. It’s smelling the blooming flowers even though I have intense allergies. There are thousands of little resurrections happening in the soil below our feet now that we’ve welcomed a revival of cleaner air and, in turn, cleaner environments.
As we move through this Easter, I invite you to notice the little resurrections happening around your respective environments.