There is hope for a tree
if it is cut down that it will sprout again;
It’s tender roots shall not cease.
Even though its roots grow old in the earth
and its stump die in the dust,
Yet at the first whiff of water it sprouts
and puts forth branches like a young plant.

Job 14: 7-9

At the beginning of the week we call holy (Holy Week) I sat beside an old stump and saw new life wending its way out of the wood. I remembered a song we used to sing when I was a young Sister here at St. Scholastica Monastery. (Fort Smith, Arkansas) It was a song by the Jesuits entitled, WOOD HATH HOPE… I am almost sure the song grew out of meditating on the quote above from the book of Job.

Today I am thinking about my own seemingly dead wood and how often it resurrects before my eyes and sometimes because of someone else’s hope and faith, not even my own. All that seems bleak and forlorn in my life suddenly blossoms. I look all around me. Death is still present; it’s happening every day. There is sadness, unbelievable sorrow, violence that often leads to death. I go out into the world of nature and see the battle of death and life unfolding before my eyes. Everywhere new life is climbing out of the ground. There are times when, because of lack of water, lack of rain, the unfolding life doesn’t survive. It folds in the middle of its unfolding. I, too, at times feel as though I am folding in the middle of my unfolding. But then something happens–someone comes along and gives me hope in the midst of my hopelessness.

One such person in history stands out as someone who teaches us to live as though we are threatened with resurrection. Guatemalan poet, Julia Esquivel, lived in exile for nearly a decade because of her work on behalf of justice for the indigenous Mayan people. How beautifully she writes of hope in her two poems, The Certainty of Spring and Threatened with Resurrection. Listen to the hope that can be found in these words from a few pieces of her poem:

“What keeps us from sleeping,
Is that they have threatened us with resurrection!
Because at each nightfall,
Though exhausted from the endless inventory
Of killings since 1954,
Yet we continue to love life,
And do not accept their death!

Because in this marathon of Hope,
there are always others to relieve us
in bearing the courage necessary
to arrive at the goal which lies beyond death…

Accompany us then on this vigil
And you will know what it is to dream!
You will then know how marvelous it is
To live threatened with resurrection!
To dream awake,
To keep watch asleep
To live while dying
And to already know oneself resurrected!”

(by Julia Esquivel, Guatemalan poet and theologian, from her book, Threatened With Resurrection: Prayers and Poems from an Exiled Guatemalan, Brethren Press.

Yes, even dead wood has hope! All within you that seems to be withering and losing ground has been threatened with resurrection. Faith, Hope and Love will have the last word.

Let’s join the wondrous throng of Christians who know for certain that they have been threatened with resurrection. Happy Easter!