As this crisis continues, and Holy Week begins, I find myself struggling to say compact, pithy, and hopeful things. Yet for some reason I’m writing poetry, maybe because poetry is about wondering and questions, rather than concrete assertions. I can’t make concrete assertions now. So, a poem, written just now at my desk. Afterwards, I’ll offer a brief thought about it.
Some Greeks Wish to See Jesus
Despite the thunder, birdsong.
Within an ambulance’s wail,
the flowering apple trees.
Let us affirm that there is a seed —
something to fall into earth and die
as this wet day undoes a husk
and sends a spiraling unfurl of green
to brave the dark, to push
and grow into a world unknown,
a world reshaped just days from now —
let us affirm there is a seed.
Are we the soil, or someone else,
some unwanted, unexpected Greek?
In the passage from John’s gospel, some Greeks come to see Jesus, but they never get to see him. Philip tells him that they’re there, and Jesus begins a long speech, saying “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Jesus is the seed in the metaphor. Are the Greeks the earth, the new soil that the seed of God will grow from? And if so, what does this mean for us, who think we know Jesus, and assume that we’re the good soil that he’s talking about? Better to admit that we know nothing, rather than to make such a presumptuous and self-glorifying assumption.