What kind of metaphor matches the extraordinary event of resurrection? Eggs, rabbits, butterflies, the springtime renewal of bulbs and flowers and plants long dormant– all become metaphors for new life. They are fresh metaphors as long as there are children around, but for jaded adults their freshness wanes.
When Jan, Nathan and I went with friends to Acadia National Park several years ago, along the Atlantic coastline of Maine, we took a ranger-led tour along the rocky coast. We saw the small tidal pools teeming with brightly colored life amid the granite boulders. Tiny neon red starfish, translucent sea anemones, orange sea horses, dark burgundy kelp, rainbow-sided minnows just started the long list of creatures found in pools no larger than a tub, left behind when the tide receded. Their lives seemed self-contained and secure, but reality always brings another tide and connection to the ocean, where their destiny is to grow beyond their small size into larger creatures within an infinitely larger sea.
Life in the tidal pool is interesting, but one is always aware that it is a microcosm of something vast and powerful. Life in the pool is fragile and temporary. The tide both renews the pool and destroys it, trading one set of inhabitants for another, retrieving its occupants for another life.
The pool could be any human organization. Nothing we belong to, from family to nation to humanity itself, lasts forever without changing. We get so involved in the small picture we do not see the larger. The forest for the trees. But if there are tides of change that we foresee, we live differently. Sometimes we live with more appreciation for the precious time we have in this space, and sometimes with more anxiety for fear of the coming changes.
The pool could be life itself, mortal and finite, existing in the endless mysteries of the universe. Science portrays many such tides in past aeons, bringing changes that involve destruction and renewal. What we experience in four dimensions, string theory in physics now tells us must exist in ten, well beyond what we perceive, in series of explanations that grow more bizarre and esoteric year by year.
Resurrection reveals our reality. Our regular reminders and celebrations of this bringa fresh tide of life-changing awareness. There is more to life than we can see, but how can we possibly describe it or talk about it sensibly with so little experience of it? We have to see beyond the confines of our pool, our little group, our short time. We begin to see a long trajectory of forgiveness and mercy, infinite patience, and steadfast purpose to bring something larger into being.