As we enter Holy Week, we ponder Christ’s suffering on our behalf and God’s timing to bring us second life. What does this mean in light of today? In light of unfulfilled longings, ongoing rejections, and unpredictable sicknesses?
A few years ago I traveled to South Korea to find personal resurrection. What I found was not a grand adventure, but a perspective shift and a healing experience which started with a new understanding of no stranger teacher than suffering.
She beckoned me across the ocean with hope.
“The cherry blossoms will be in bloom.” I scraped together Delta miles, withheld new clothes and fast food, saved change so I could see them burst open. When we need deep renewing, we cling to hope symbols.Tweet This
I imagined my destination: Seoul, Korea, the spirit of a city as a balm of beauty, pink, resurrecting me from pinched nerve pain. From my fearful heart beating anxiety. From being stuck between my passions: teaching my children at home and being a writer.
Cherry blossoms would be my rebirth.
Pink means love, of oneself and others. It also means, “the best condition or degree.” And my condition was bleak. The pain in my body, a manifestation of my soul. The fear that rose to the surface: never becoming the woman I was meant to be.
I was lost in the debilitation of a suffering heart and I begged God to ease the aching. Some days I could not grip my pen, to write out the throbbing, the weakness of the nerve constricting my hand, reminding me I was not superwoman.
Surely, the pain would die if I could only experience spring.
I flew to Korea to escape the cave of winter. The cherry blossoms promised to come. I followed their scent.
Wandering the city, my friend and hostess led me across miles of pavement, lined with trees reaching their twig fingers up between skyscrapers and palaces. They weren’t trying to force their loveliness. They grew roots underground, expectant for their time. But we kept hoping and waiting for the blooms to ravish us with their splendor.
In a park we found a shrub that fooled us for a moment. I wrote out the lovely disappointment:
I wait for inspirations to come
In the night
Like the purple-sticked blossoms
Surprising our eyes
In palace garden,
The scent carrying us to thin, shrouded bows,
Unwrapping our defenses
As they revealed themselves
Undressed to the chill air and our hot breath,
Suffocating them. We only wanted to breathe in spring
One night we peered at the cityscape from a tall-windowed apartment. Tiny lights, red, yellow, and white dotted the view in dusk’s retreat. Standing there, I felt the evening’s peace creeping over us.
One or two cherry blossoms made their entrance in the corners of our landscape, a canvas, slowly bearing blots of color, almost like paint, purple-like in the dimness, barely bursting. Later I wrote in my journal:
“Until we give ourselves over to the adventure, we will never know the fullness of being in a place and letting it tell us what it needs to say.”
The blooms never came, really, not like we expected. My longing for perspective and resurrection came, but in long periods of rest and recovery, in Korea, and later at home.
It came in unexpected sickness and Sabbath rest, in surrendering to the journey of waiting, and (in a season I didn’t understand fully) letting God love me.
Spring did not come shooting forth with answers to my suffering or next steps for my life. It made me wait.Tweet This
Glory pink came to Seoul just days after I left, I am told. When I stepped into my yard back in Kansas, peony-like tulips dotted the shade garden. I realize now, a full year later, they are the same color as the lights we saw over the great Korean city: violet, crimson, gold, and snow. Tonight, one or two will open under the stars, emblems of God’s perfect time.