I am so thankful that Spring is here; aren’t you? Granted, here in Ohio, we have not had a brutal winter, Yet, I am itching to get my hands back into the dirt. I’m not a Master Gardener, by any means, but I have become a determined composter.
Because I live in a condo, I can only do composting on a small scale. I have a few pots on my patio into which I collect dry leaves, food scraps, coffee grounds, egg shells, shredded newspaper, grass clippings and banana peels.
I even get excited about big, fat, juicy worms trying to survive a big rain. Squeamishly, I collect them. I drop them in a bag and say, “I’m gonna make your day”. Then I take them home, depositing them in one of my compost pots to feast on scraps.
There’s a reason I want to talk about dirt this time of year. Did you notice, in the reading of the Easter story from the Gospel of John, that Mary didn’t recognize the Risen Christ? She thought he was the gardener.
Why is that? Did he have dirt under his fingernails? Could he have smelled like compost and worms? Jesus couldn’t have looked like a holy ghost, if Mary mistook him for OLD McDonald.
You know, one of the things that this story tells me Is that new life is messy. Mary Magdalene didn’t encounter some glowing spiritual Jesus. He didn’t appear with a halo, wings or a Spring Break tan. He didn’t appear in Khakis and a melon-colored polo shirt. Neither did he look like some Superhero with a cape. Mary mistook him for Mr. Green Jeans.
I don’t know why that should surprise us. The Gospel wasn’t meant to be cleaned up. Think about it. Jesus was born around farm animals. And, from the beginning, Jesus chose unimpressive characters to follow him: fishermen, tax collectors, prostitutes. These days, that would be like recruiting veterans with PTSD, recovering addicts, food pantry regulars and teenagers with bad attitudes for his army of love.
The Gospel is messy; Why would we assume Resurrection is any different? I get it. The Garden of Resurrection is the new Garden of Eden. Jesus is the new Adam. It’s a whole new beginning. All of creation is being restored. I understand the garden theme.
However, for me, Easter gets personal. Between us, my life has been messy. I have lots of dirt: guilt, fear, regret and shame. I know claiming the new life God offers will take some gardening. Some regrets need to be dug up and composted. Some relationships need to be pruned. My fear about things I cannot control needs to be dead-headed. My compassion for others needs to be fertilized.
Easter, for me, is the faith that the Master Gardener is still working with me and with the whole earth. Put on your garden gloves and join us.