Miriam Hogan, O.C.D.
Recently, as we were searching for a song for the Liturgy, we came across the words, “in the bulb, there is a flower.” How can this statement relate to Easter? And further, what can it mean in our personal spiritual lives? How does it apply to our understanding of Lent/Easter?
During Lent, and perhaps especially during Lent, it is not easy to write about our own sufferings and face the serious problems that most human beings encounter sometime during their lives. It is even more difficult to write about the sufferings of those we love, concerning for example the pains of war, disease, poverty etc. and the death and loss of our loved ones. These things are personal and so much of our world is now digital and mechanical and impersonal. We’ve grown accustomed to processing life rapidly…maybe too fast?
Going back to the time of my childhood, I remember an Irish custom of leaving a place at the table for a loved one for a year, after they had passed away. There was an immediate sense of unspoken reverence for the person who was missing when one approached the dinner table. Today, we may consider this at best, an example of overzealous piety, or at worse an unhealthy failure to let go our emotions, and I am not suggesting that we newly promote this practice. Yet, in a unique and powerful way, this custom made us aware of the spiritual presence of those that had gone before us, inviting us to a more contemplative understanding of everyday life. This kind of understanding of the eternal present in our midst requires time and a depth of perception that some of the gardeners among us can especially appreciate.
Planting a bulb requires patience and care before the flower appears. Jesus himself was mistaken for a gardener by St. Mary Magdalene. (John 19:15) Further, St. Teresa of Jesus assures us that even Our Lady needed time to grow in the joyful understanding of the Lords’ Resurrection:
He told me that immediately after His resurrection He went to see our Lady because she then had great need and that the pain she experienced so absorbed and transpierced her soul that she did not return immediately to herself to rejoice in that joy. …He also said that he remained a long time with her because it was necessary in order to console her. (Spiritual Testimonies loc 6676)
The bulb analogy can also remind us that there is life developing inside us that we are often not aware of. Taking the example of Our Lady, we can grow in a deeper understanding of the Easter mystery as it takes place within us and outside the world around us. In order to grow in this understanding however, we may need to step back or take a break from all the time spent with texting and technology, in order to return once again to the garden where we can await the Living Lord in silence and solitude.
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