On Holy Saturday, I had a meeting that took me far into the San Fernando Valley. The month prior, I had made the same drive and was so saddened by how parched the hillsides were. One after another slope was covered in drab brown with little green to break up the sense of an earth drying up.
The drought in Southern California was supposed to have been eased by a strong El Nino effect this year, bringing more rain than normal, and easing the plight of trees and other growth thirsting for moisture. But rainfall amounts have actually been below the levels of last year in and around Los Angeles. Severe drought is still very much a reality.
Thus, my drive took me through hilly terrain that looked brittle and stark. And I didn’t expect this month’s drive to be any different until I began my descent into the valley and was astonished by what I saw.
Where there was only a dirty brown landscape, now I saw a painter’s palette of green covering the slopes of hills and enlivening once-droopy trees and shrubs. As I drove along, my eyes roved this way and that (very safely, to be sure), drinking in the play of wind that feathered grasses, showing off their soft, recently sprouted light green running alongside the freeway.
Sunlight glistened on the darker greens in the distance, on the higher slopes, highlighting a carpet of lush growth that I almost wanted to reach out and touch (but I kept my hands on the wheel).
Here and there, I spied a bush blazing with red flowers among the greenery, a row of more bushes decorated in white flowers and another row festooned in pink. Trees all along looked as if they’d gained double their size from all of the foliage covering their limbs. And there were spring flowers, too, their petals seeming to dance in the breeze.
The more I saw of this awesome rebirth, the more I marveled that it was there at all. We haven’t had significant rain in ages. We are in a terrible drought. But deep within its water-starved terrain, God’s earth declares that it is spring. There will be new life, new growth, a new beginning, no matter what.
Then, my mind turned to the day at hand: Holy Saturday, a day when I often feel at loose ends after the intense faith experience of Holy Thursday and Good Friday. Waiting for Easter becomes uncomfortable. But not this Holy Saturday. This time, I was gifted with an amazing lesson in God’s abundant love and his unfailing ability to reveal that love in unexpected ways.
This “day between” is not one in which nothing happens. It is a day when, if I keep alert, I can see how, even from dry ground and brittle branches, from what seems hopeless, there is new life and there is always hope.
As I neared my destination, I saw a few patches of unrevived ground, a few trees with gnarled, leafless limbs. But there was no doubt in my mind that these, too, would soon join in the celebration of such a determined, marvelous spring. Drought or no drought, it’s time!
Often, when we live with pain, health challenges and other burdens, we feel utterly parched and brittle, too. But like the valley I saw today, leaping to life despite a drought, we recipients of God’s grace and love are renewed through Easter’s wonderful good news. And as we drink it all in, our drought, too, is ended.