The fragrance stopped me mid-stride. Flowering crabapple blossoms resurrected from winter’s grip. White with soft pink centers, dripping off woody tree branches, blanketed the cement at my feet. I was a woman on a mission, needing to clock my forty-five minute walk before diving into a full day. But blooms last but a breath. A few days, at most. I couldn’t help but stop and breathe deep their fragrance.

This year, however, the crabapple blooms have delighted me for two solid weeks, much longer than usual. A Colorado cold snap usually cuts their debut short. Most years, I’m too caught up in spring-like activities, and I miss their glory entirely.

Not this year. Nearly every day, for the past two weeks, I walk underneath their canopy. And each time I slow, lean in, close my eyes, and smile. They delight me, this obvious evidence of life.

It reminds me of resurrection.

Less than a month ago, these same trees were brown and brittle, frozen with snow. They offered no shade, no color, no fragrance. Their barrenness spoke of death.

Today, however, these trees tell a different story. They tell of the long months of internal winter work, of an uncanny ability to leverage a barren season to rest and regenerate life. In fact, each pale blossom proves the tree’s death only an illusion. Inside, it held the miracle of life.

This is why, perhaps, I savor Good Friday as much as Easter Sunday. It’s a dark night, a night filled with the broken and brittle, a night during which every detail hints at doom. Death stands watch. We hear it in Jesus’ anguished prayers, feel it in his agony, see it in his tears.

Saturday grows even more grave. Jesus has died, his broken body buried in a tomb. The stone has sealed all possible hope of a punchline. It wasn’t a mistake, a horrible joke. Instead, his death rings final. He’s gone, the hope of mankind. And all his disciples flee in both fear and devastation.

Both the garden and the grave have given me good company over the past years. I’ve grown to savor the dark, the way God-in-flesh entered into it, experienced it, wrestled with it, mourned it. It is Jesus’ Gethsemane agony and inglorious Calvary that bring me comfort in my soul’s winters, when life seems absent and beyond resurrection. He sits with me there, keeping watch while I pray and wait. He doesn’t sleep or slip away, he draws closer still. My pain is His pain. He knows it well, and feels no fear.

Because He knows the miracle of life hides inside, at the ready, waiting for Sunday.

Waiting for resurrection.

This Easter week, I’m thinking of forlorn gardens as well as the fragrant ones. I’m thinking of this life which is, at once, both beautiful and brittle. We are often frozen by the impossible and inexplicable, the questions we can’t answer and the conundrums we can’t solve.

There is so much we don’t yet understand.

Even so, life hides within. In your life and mine. And sometimes hints of it hide in the blossoms of a long-blooming flowering crabapple tree, reminding us that we have good company in our winters. But, also, that resurrection is around the corner.

Breathe in, friends. Resurrection testifies. Every blossom is a hint at a greater glory.

Peace from pain.

Life from death.

And Resurrection from a garden’s mourning.

And now brothers, I will ask you a terrible question, and God knows I ask it also of myself. Is the truth beyond all truths, beyond the stars, just this: that to live without him is the real death, that to die with him the only life? ―Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat

[reminder]Where can you sense the fragrance of resurrection in your life? [/reminder]

{Image Copyright: markusgann / 123RF Stock Photo}

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