Turn Aside and Look: April Corpse Light

sunsetappletree

Lined with light
the twigs are stubby arrows.
A gilded trunk writhes
Upward from the roots,
from the pit of the black tentacles.

In the book of spring
a bare-limbed torso
is the first illustration.

Light teaches the tree
to beget leaves,
to embroider itself all over
with green reality,
until summer becomes
its steady portrait
and birds bring their lifetime
to the boughs.

Then even the corpse
light copies from below
may shimmer, dreaming it feels
the cheeks of blossom.
~May Swenson “April Light”

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In April we wait for the corpse light~
a mysterious illumination which comes alive
on a bright Sabbath Easter morning,
taking bare stubs of people,
begetting them green,
bursting them into blossom,
their cheeks pink with life,
in promise of faithful fruitfulness.

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Lenten Grace — As His Flesh: Ours

photo by Emily Gibson
photo by Emily Gibson
facing east to the rising sun by Jim Randall
facing east to the rising sun by Jim Randall
photo of BriarCroft Sunrise Service 2013 by Emily Gibson
photo of BriarCroft Sunrise Service 2013 by Emily Gibson

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall…

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His Flesh: ours.
~John Updike from “Seven Stanzas at Easter”

Our flesh is so weak, so temporary,
as ephemeral as a dew drop on a petal
yet with our earthly vision
it is all we know of ourselves
and it is what we trust knowing
of Him.

He was born as our flesh, from our flesh.
He walked and hungered and thirsted and slept
as our flesh.
He died, His flesh hanging in tatters,
blood spilling freely
breath fading
to nought
speaking Words
our ears can never forget.

And He rose again
as His flesh: ours
to walk and hunger and thirst alongside us
and here on this hill we meet together,
–flesh of His flesh–
here among us He is risen
–flesh of our flesh–
married forever
as the Church
and its fragile, flawed
and everlasting body.

photo by Josh Scholten
photo by Josh Scholten

Lenten Reflection–Letting Go


Forgiveness is letting go of a bell rope. If you have ever seen a country church with a bell in the steeple, you will remember that to get the bell ringing you have to tug awhile. Once it has begun to ring, you merely maintain the momentum. As long as you keep pulling, the bell keeps ringing. Forgiveness is letting go of the rope. It is just that simple. But when you do so, the bell keeps ringing. Momentum is still at work. However, if you keep your hands off the rope, the bell will begin to slow and eventually stop.
Corrie Ten Boom

In just two weeks our Chapel family will begin observing Holy Week. Before the Sunrise Resurrection Sunday worship on our farm hilltop followed by a service inside the church and Easter brunch together, we gather for a soup and bread communion supper on Maundy Thursday and a Tenebrae (Shadows) Service on the evening of Good Friday. At the end of the somber Tenebrae service, our steeple church bell tolls, the bell rope pulled repeatedly as we sit within darkness in the sanctuary. This knelling of Christ’s death resonates in our own bodies. It is unmistakeable, hearing the pealing of our guilt and shame reverberating out for all to hear.

When the bell rope is released, the bell continues to ring a few times but then quiets itself. We sit in ensuing silence, aware the debt we could never pay on our own had been paid in full for us. We have been forgiven, the tolling of the bell now ceased, and the toll of our sin reconciled.

God has let go of our debt, freeing us from the shadows where sin had trapped us. We are able to then stand and walk out, redeemed by a flesh and blood God suffering in our place.

In the morning of the third day, we hear Him say our names from the empty tomb. Forgiven, all guilt and shame let go, we rise from our shadows to answer His resonating call.

Chapel Bell Tower