There was once a tree in a garden full of life. The bright greens, greens, and purples of spring growth were all around, and the birds sang from tree to tree. There was one exception, though. In the far corner a tree stood by itself. Dead leaves from the fall still clung stubbornly to the branches, and its starkness compared to the vibrancy of the surrounding trees seemed to point to death. A bronze marker at the base of the tree revealed the sad irony that this tree had been planted in someone's memory, and its seeming decline was another cruel twist of grief.
A sight like that could make you sigh in hopelessness. It could make you want to cut the tree down in surrender, another reminder of our mortality. But if you stopped for a minute to look up, to look past the dried and twisted leaves, you might be surprised by something. Could those be the buds of tiny new growth? Are the bits of green new leaves emerging among the dying one? It seems that some trees hold on to their dead leaves all through the fall and winter until the new spring growth pushes them out.
There are signs of life all around. Although we may feel withered and dry, we are called to remember the cycle of life. Yes, death will come for us all, but there is so much more. Life calls us now, and it calls us again and again from our darkness, from our hiding places, from our refusal to let go of all that holds us back.
This is the message of Good Friday. Though things seem hopeless, there is light to guide us through, and lessons to be learned in the dark. Though we grieve, we also rejoice that we could love so deeply. Though we are confused and feel abandoned, we keep walking through the uncertainty and find that there is meaning and purpose in the journey. What can we know of light without the dark?