Fifth Sunday in Lent
Ezekiel 37: 1 – 14
Romans 8: 6 – 11
John 11: 1 – 45
I’m not sure how old I was. I might have been around 13 or so. One Sunday, our Rector, Mr. Pasterfield, challenged us in his sermon to find the shortest verse in the Bible. The one clue he gave us, was that this verse could be found in the Gospels. The rest was up to us. As the Brothers here in the community will tell you, I am often up for a challenge, and this one tweaked my budding inner theologian, so home I went, to see what I could find.
If I remember correctly, it took most of Sunday afternoon for me to find it, and I didn’t have any help from my parents. (In fact, I am not convinced that they knew either what the shortest verse was, or where to find it.) I started by skimming the chapters, and if I thought I had found it, I would count words, and then letters. Slowly I narrowed down the possibilities. At some point in the afternoon, much to my delight, I found it, right there on the thin onion skin pages of the King James Version of the Bible that sat on our bookshelves. It was just two words and only nine letters long: Jesus wept.
Whenever you are around people who are very, very happy, you will likely see tears. These are tears of joy, wonder, gratitude, satisfaction that come from a deep place in a person’s soul, when someone has experienced a kind of greatness so amazing, almost too great to behold. Something simply bursts with a release of ecstasy streaming down a person’s face. Of all the things that can be planned in life, tears of joy and gladness do not need to be choreographed. They simply happen. And it is the same for the tears of sorrow, tears of pain or loss, burning the eyes like from the salt of the sea, and coming from a place as deep and endless as the ocean. Tears of sorrow expose a person’s deepest vulnerabilities, longings, and losses.
Yesterday was a spectacular day! The weather made it a perfect spring day and so I decided to make the best of it and spend the afternoon in the bee yard at Emery House. Of the nine bee hives I had last fall, eight survived the winter. The ninth hive unfortunately died. It must have starved sometime in January when it was so cold that the bees could no longer access the food they had stored last summer. Of the eight hives that survived the winter, seven are bursting with bees. The eighth hive seems to be a little slower in recovering. For the last several weeks I have been feeding the bees a sugar candy to make sure they survived the last of the cold, snowy days and that they had enough food to get them through until the nectar begins to flow and the flowers produce their pollen. Yesterday I decided to switch their food and feed them sugar syrup, into which I was able to put some antibiotics in order to give them a boost as they head into the spring honey flow. As I peered into the hives, I couldn’t help but see how they were bursting with bees and while I only looked down into them through the open top I knew they were thriving. It seems that wherever I looked yesterday life was literally erupting around me.