Deserving

I followed my heart to trees this evening, after hearing Mary’s voice in the garden at sunrise.

Behind Woodburn, I sought out my gnarled old friend – sycamore, fig? – covered in English ivy,

but lost my way to a trailing white treelet, half-fountain, half-bridal veil. I was enchanted

but unsure of its beauty in the absence of the older tree, its calming homeliness and shadows

so cleanly cut away I thought perhaps my memory was a trick. All week, I have desired holiness,

but found only sensuousness. I shrugged off ashes for magnolia blossoms, and waded

in a cold brook instead of meditating on the cross. In church this morning, though I sang lustily

the songs I love, I wondered: what have I done to deserve Easter this year? I grew pensive

for the green of home, but held my tears for shame. God of my childhood, Shepherd

of my youth, Saviour of my puny shrivelled soul, Guardian of my heart, Jesus, the sweetest name

I know, I want to acknowledge this: I have never deserved Easter. It has taken doubt

and self-loathing to know that every sunrise, every field of daffodils I cannot stop praising

in giddy, childish bursts, the eggs I painted last night with reckless joy,

my rebellious, aching, awakening body, is all life, Lord, and has the potential for holiness.

My smudged, shadow-filled heart wants to fly clean like the redbird again. But first,

I echo Mary’s words in the garden, next to this tomb of me: Master, Teacher!

—Charity Gingerich completed her MFA in poetry at West Virginia University, where she is currently teaching English composition and creative writing. This piece is reprinted with permission from the Center for Mennonite Writer’s Journal (Vol. 2, No. 7).

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