The Independent newspaper has celebrated Good Friday with a pullout of poetry about spring. There’s something very tempting about lining up the rebirth of nature as winter ends and the resurrection of Jesus at Easter. Tempting but, I think misleading. I was convinced by von Balthasar that naturalising the Paschal Mystery is a mistake. There’s a natural process, however, we try to be surprised by it, that leads us from winter to spring–we count on it, literally–but there is no natural process to lead from death to life. The Resurrection isn’t a sequel; it’s a shocking gift we could never have foreseen, no matter how much we desired. Our hope in resurrection is precisely that, hope, and not any kind of outcome we can predict, manipulate, or work toward–we trust in the goodness and creativity of God.
Let me undermine my argument with a poem by Hopkins. The Indo used his ‘Spring’. I thought this might be more suitable for Good Friday:
Spring and Fall
to a young child
MÁRGARÉT, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves, líke the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Áh! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.