I like April. It is Purim behind, Passover in front and Easter floating somewhere in between, tied to the first full moon after light and darkness halve the day. Esther averts her people from pending destruction; Moses leads the Israelite slaves on a journey to a promised land; Jesus becomes more than anyone thought he could be: salvation, deliverance, redemption.
I like April. It is National Poetry Month and every day I receive a new poem in my mailbox. They humble me these poems like todays by Robin Coste Lewis. The author restricts her words to fragments of book titles, catalog and exhibit entries in which a Black female figure is represented. She brings us a meditation on race and a record of a different kind of journey through time and place, also one of promise but like almost all, still unfulfilled.
I like daffodils fighting to break through winters hard and unforgiving crust demanding we will be born again; dogwood trees blossoming stark white against the deep dark bark. And for those of you who are Florida averse and complain you miss the seasons, driving home yesterday, I caught this Tabebuia trumpeting hints of grace and salvation just next to the curb. They like to drop their leaves in March and early April, replacing them with these brilliant yellow flowers. We had one once but for all its splendor ours blew over in a storm, either the roots too shallow or the wood too brittle. There is a price to pay for almost everything, including beauty.
I like this holiday of spring that calls on me to renew myself. I like searching for the parts of me I think could be better. I like the questions that spiritual work engenders. There are at least four. It brings me to Passover and all its symbolism and rituals; it brings me to Passover and all its rules about which way I lean and what I can eat. This year it is really late – I know the lunar calendar verses the solar and the need to add an extra month to the Hebrew calendar so that holidays hang in there on time and Passover doesn’t migrate across the years to mid summer. But this year I appreciate the extra time it is giving me. It feels like there is breathing room to prepare for the Seder with all its directions and instructions.
“Break the middle Matzah in half.” How did they know that’s impossible? There is always inequity. And they take that reality and make it work – save the larger piece for the Afikomen, a sacred game of hide and seek. That broken piece of Matzah is well over half the world who are still waiting for us to find them and help them become whole. That ridged, perforated, flat excuse for bread commands us not only to remember that we were slaves but also to act, to care, to reach out in compassion for those whose lives are still embittered
The yellow tree is poetry; it is Passover; it is a promise of potential. The winter is gone; new life is blossoming. Indifference to the myriad of plagues that flood our inbox need not be a permanent affliction. We have power; we can change tomorrow; we can do it one matzah crumb at a time; just picking up the pieces and remembering – this year we are slaves; next year may we all be free.