I like nature, that’s probably not a secret to anyone- particularly my housemates who might sometimes think I like trees more than I like people. In the student center where my office is we’re in the first stages of growing wheatgrass. So I’m really excited. Wheatgrass is the kind of stuff that health places are always trying to get you to add to nutritional shakes. According to the booklet on how to germinate it this will almost literally cure any type of disease you have because it harnesses the power of the sun and has something boldly called ‘living energy’ in it. Living energy! This is the stuff of miracles- if we can believe the hype.
But let me tell you, this miracle-wonder liver healer and lung replacement stuff doesn’t look like much right now. In fact I must confess a certain level of disappointment. The first two steps in the process don’t even have anything to do with planting, or growing or sunlight or water or any of the other cherished notions that science fair projects have drilled into my head. The first step is to soak the seeds overnight. Next you have to rinse them off and let them sit for about a day. These seeds are doing nothing for a full day!
So today I came in and rinsed them off and right now they are sitting on my desk in the process of ‘germination’. So I took a good look. And do you know what those seeds are doing? They are actually sprouting. I mean, literally they are just sitting in a watering container I took from the teachers’ lounge. But they have these little heads poking out of the shell, and they are doing this without any water or sunlight. The growth is small, hardly noticeable really.
I got really excited and showed some of my students. I am a very enthusiastic person, and when they saw the barely perceptible sprouts some of them snorted derisively, unimpressed. And maybe compared to what the wheatgrass is going to look like- tall, vibrant, and endlessly healthy- it’s not very noteworthy.
So I sat down to write this reflection. And I was thinking about how exactly I’m supposed to express all the weighty emotion of seeing the purest thing in the world (Jesus) laid to rest in a tomb with death. Of course that is not the end of things at all. Being laid in the tomb is solemn and grave and horrible, like burying hope. But it’s also just another step in the process of life.
And here’s what I think. Maybe being dormant and unobserved and silent and dark for a while is a good thing. Before the wheatgrass starts to grow, and before it can cure everyone’s problems, it needs to be stored in a dark, cool dry place. That’s pretty much exactly what a tomb is. So maybe Jesus is just tipping his hat some sort of natural order. Maybe while we mourn the death of the best human in history and while we weep that ‘God is dead’, maybe Jesus is wintering and lying fallow. And maybe we need that sorrow to help us realize how valuable Jesus is. So maybe the tomb isn’t as abject a symbol as I usually think. And cliché as it sounds, maybe burial is another part of life.