Few things wrap us in glory as the natural world. Each morning, night is scattered by the rising sun and fills the earth with promise of a new beginning. Every evening this sun sets, often in a beautiful collision of reds, oranges, and purples capable of quieting the day’s toil; the moon gleams amidst the evening sky, amethyst blue. And as night falls, these shades of piercing blue give way to deep ebony, enhancing the radiance of countless stars, and the hope of all who gaze upon them. Rainforests teem with life, while ocean waves crash faithfully on quiet sands etching blue waters, carving within the soul new love and vigor. And the American Elm stands tall, awakening one’s own strength and resilience, as it stretches its great limbs towards the sky in an unflagging, three-hundred-year reach towards heaven. And yet, though nature is full of promise and beauty, it is, like all life, vulnerable to loss, death, and destruction.
Fire quickly rages to desolate whole forests. Without warning, volcanoes erupt, unleashing searing lava flows and billows of ash, rendering surrounding landscapes lifeless. The brilliant flowers of summer fade, succumb to the frosts of fall, and are quickly buried beneath blankets of wintry snows. Far above us, galaxies stretch and distort with great intensity as they collide. And a spider’s meticulous labor to spin a web is all too easily destroyed by the unknowing passerby.
But what has the final word? Life? Death? Which is stronger? Is it the promise of glory, or the ruin of the broken pieces?
Tenacious capacity to recover.
Fire ecology has revealed, forth from the ashes of a forest fire, many habitats become more vital, healthy, and give life to species that otherwise could not have flourished. The eruption of Mt. Saint Helen’s triggered the largest landslide in recorded history, toppling 4 billion board feet of timber and landscape for 230 square miles, and sending 520 million tons of ash into the air darkening skies 250 miles away. The area was entirely devastated. And yet thirty-five years later life has returned.
And though the old scenery has passed, a new landscape and ecosystem has emerged, witnessing to the tenacious capacity of life to recover even after disaster. Though flowers die beneath the snows of winter, their life has not ended. The little seeds they carried with them silently find their way into the earth, only to burst into new life come springtime. Even astronomers can testify to the new life that comes as a result of the intense interaction of galaxies when they merge. Stellar nurseries are born, and with them the next generation of stars. And even though a web is broken, the spider is not deterred. For the great Architect that designed the spider gave it the ability to repair the broken threads.
God can’t stand to see anything lost.
And as deeply as the Divine Architect inscribed the story of redemption in nature, so too, He inscribed it all the more intimately in us. God gave us His very Self – Jesus. Through His passion, death and resurrection, we gain the ability to claim redemption in every event of our lives.
Just like in the natural world, circumstances can often cause us to feel helpless as we gaze at the broken pieces of our lives. And yet, if we lift our eyes, look to our Redeemer, and give Him permission, we will discover that with Christ – death, darkness, and loss never have the final word.
Bursting forth with new life in Him.
When our lives are challenged to rise forth from the ashes – we can cling with confidence to the possibilities of the life-giving power of Christ’s resurrection. When pain and affliction erupt into our lives and threaten our every sense of security and wellbeing – we can let Love go to work redeeming every place with His infinite and inexhaustible mercy. When death touches us through sin and illness – we can lay its every sting to rest in the tomb with Our Redeemer, and wait for it to burst forth into new life with Him. When the unexpected breaks our lives into pieces and clouds our every hope – we can choose to abide in Jesus Christ – the Savior who is with us, and whose Sacred Heart beats within us as much as our very own, trusting, He will make all things new.
Originally printed in IMPRINT Magazine Fall 2016.