On the first day of spring I had bought a small pot of tulips to remind me that the cold Northeast temperatures would soon be gone. Since then the pot has had a place on our kitchen table. At that time the tulips were just green buds. But each day Sarah and I had our meals at our table we’d comment on how much the tulips had grown since the previous day. It was amazing how much growth took place in just 24-hour’s time! For me it became a delight to see how much it had grown each time we sat down for breakfast or dinner. It reminded me of when Jesus told the story about the seed that grows at night while the farmer is sleeping.
“The Kingdom of God is like this. A man scatters seed in his field. He sleeps at night, is up and about during the day, and all the while the seeds are sprouting and growing. Yet he does not know how it happens. The soil itself makes the plants grow and bear fruit; first the tender stalk appears, then the head, and finally the head full of grain.” (Mark 4:26-28)
Here Jesus is essentially saying, “This is what God is like!” The wonder and mystery wrapped up in the growing seedling is an insight into the wonder and mystery of God. I recently had a conversation with sixth grade students on the Ignatian principle of finding God in all things. We discussed how we might discern what things in this world are of God, and what are not. One of the main criteria that something might be of God are those places where we find life. Since God is the Creator of all things, the miraculous growth of a plant is a clear sign of God, so is a new baby, or a butterfly coming out of a cocoon, or the rising sun that radiates life-giving energy on the earth.
Easter is the perfect time to reflect on Christ’s Resurrection as the ultimate symbol of new life. Just as a seedling bursts out of the soil, Christ emerges from the grave promising us a life that never ends. And just as Christ emerges from the grave, we emerge from the waters of baptism into a new life. It’s no wonder you’ll often hear Ignatianophiles talk about whether something is life-giving or not. When your vocation gives you life it’s something that lifts you up, that makes you feel fulfilled and alive; it gives you an increase in faith, hope, and love, Ignatius might say. That’s a great sign that your vocation is something of God. When someone’s words give life or a set of religious practices are life-giving they become a miniature resurrection, a place where God bursts forth into our lives.
What is giving you life so far this Easter season?
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Music by Kevin MacLeod