On the Saturday before Palm Sunday, a metal post-driver landed on my head. I’m still not sure just how that driver jumped off the post I was pounding and took its revenge on my noggin.
A visit to the Clarke County Hospital ER, kind attention from the medical staff, four small scalp staples and a tetanus shot later, I was pretty much back to normal. I’d gone out that afternoon to set six posts, three-quarter inch pipes really, to serve as mounts for six bluebird houses. Despite an imminent winter storm forecast — more blowing snow and icy roads — I was determined to get those bluebird houses up, to enjoy that ritual of spring. I was in protest against a winter lingering too long. I wanted to feel spring.
We who know the privilege of living in rural Iowa, who experience close-up the cycle of seasonal changes, recognize the rhythms of God’s creation as the rhythms of our own hearts. The lengthening daylight, the warming breezes and the gentle rains of spring stir our slumbering spirits. Nesting birds, blooming tulips, leafing trees and greening grasses lift our hearts in newly found praise of the God of all life. In the words of the psalmist, “How varied are your works, Lord! In wisdom you have wrought them all; the earth is full of your creatures” (Psalm 104, v. 24).
Our song of spring praise is just now full of Easter “Alleluias.” Jesus the Christ is risen! He who came that “we might have life and have it to the full” energizes all of creation, all of us, with the possibility of life renewed, sins forgiven, spirits lifted and wounds healed. He who perceived the whole mystery of the Father’s love in the birds of the air and the lilies of the field calls us to a communion of hope and peace. He who recognized saints in ordinary fishermen and everyday sinners challenges us to honor his transforming grace in all the ordinary folks whose lives intersect with ours. These are the joys and challenges of Easter, the reasons for our Alleluias.
When I went out in March to put up my bluebird houses, I went out not just to signal a welcome to small feathered friends. I went out to breathe in the air of spring, to relish the promises of a grace-filled existence, to exult in the resurrection victory of the Lord of Life. An unexpected bump on the head seems a small price to pay for those spring-time blessings.
A stanza from E.E. cummings “I thank you God for most this amazing”
“I thank you God for most this amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.”
From E.E. Cummings: Complete Poems, 1904-1962
George J. Firmage (ed.)
“Then Bluebird Sang” — a poem by Mary Oliver in a collection entitled Evidence, pp. 12-13. Published by Beacon Press, Boston, 2009.
slipped a little tremble
out of the triangle
of his mouth
And it hung in the air
until it reached my ear
like a froth or a frill
might have written in a dream.
with so many angels of mercy
so wondrously disguised
in feathers, in leaves,
in the tongues of stones,
in the restless waters,
in the creep and the click
and the rustle
that greet me wherever I go
with their joyful cry: I’m still here, alive!
Father Mike Hutchins
Divine Word Farm