Triptych - Three Poems for EasterBlog / Produced by The High Calling
John Blase shares three prose poems, a triptych, to help you meditate on Easter and the resurrection. A tripych is a picture or relief carving on three panels, typically hinged together side by side and used as an altarpiece.
33.4150° N, 93.0683° W
Stephens, Arkansas, lingers in my memory like that line from Wharton’s classic: simply as the most plaintive and poignant of a line of ghosts. Of the rituals we celebrated in that once oil booming town was the Easter Sunrise Service, an annual coming-together of all denominations, always held out among the tombstones. The Methodist minister and I would arrive around 5 am to decide on prayers and songs, and then wait in hopes the people would come, one more time. They never disappointed us, their earthy fidelity rooted in something deeper than loyalty to church or creed. I recall only once timing things perfectly so that we were singing the chorus of “He Lives” as the sun broke free above the witnessing pines. The other years, the regular ones, found us singing that final hymn a little late, off by a few minutes, the sun already baptizing us as we stood and faced the East. Of the many lessons I learned at those coordinates, one was that resurrection resists coming in on cue. Resurrection need not be orchestrated but simply noticed and proclaimed.
On Its Way
Their appearances having started multiplying like, well, rabbits. Far from the velveteen kind a child might ooh and aah over, these rabbits resemble something that has survived the apocalypse, winter-worn, Lent-weary, almost feral. Their eyes reflect those of the women who ran from the tomb to tell Peter and the others: shuddering and wild. For now their bodies are gaunt enough to squeeze through the slats in the fence. But this will change. At least that is their hope, their hunger. So they show up, one more time. Phone conversations with my relatives from warmer states contain daffodils and dogwoods. I can only respond with the harbinger along Colorado’s Front Range—rabbits. I speak of them in the plural, and I’m fairly certain there are families in our neighborhood. But I do confess a trace of doubt, a wondering if there’s just one simply making multiple appearances—an everyrabbit. On the one hand, I would grieve this reality for that would mean many didn’t make it. But on the other hand, I hold that it only takes one to be sufficient as an enduring witness to both the chill and the coming warm.
That Next Place
Everyone’s here. That’s the dream-sense I kept having. It was a late summer picnic, people were wearing shorts, and there were stop-traffic legs but also regular-old legs. Speaking of legs, there were all these vets whose legs had been stolen in combat, and their legs had all been returned, and they were running around chasing each other like boys while their dear mothers stood with tears in their eyes and hands on their hips saying Now wouldja just look at that. Suddenly I feared there would not be enough food for everyone, but a young Natalie Wood cleared her throat and eased me: John, there’s so much here. This is the everlasting. All my family and friends were there, plus famous people I’ve followed over the years like Johnny and June Carter. Yet also people I wouldn’t have necessarily chosen to invite. But when I saw their faces, I couldn’t help but feel a gathering tenderness toward them, so I walked over and could not stop saying, I’m so glad you’re here. One of them, an older man who took his life when I was a young preacher, said, Me too. It was then I began to weep because I realized I, too, was a guest. And with God as my witness, that was such a gorgeous thought for this first-born who usually tries to ensure everyone’s having a good time at the party, but there in that next place, I saw we were all free at last to lay down every role, real or perceived, every burden great or small. Everyone was there, and it was like we were laved in the eternal light of talk after dinner.