Old Mountain to New Earth


You have cicadas. They come every seventeen years and are expected late this week.


Where I used to live before I moved here, we have volcanoes. They come every eight hundred years and the next eruption is expected in the year 2780.


On a lovely spring day in May 1980, Mt. St. Helens on the west coast of Washington state exploded and sent tons of ash flying eastward across the country. The beautiful mountain went from being the second highest mountain in Washington to the ninth highest. The top of the mountain got sent all the way to Tennessee and everywhere in between.

I lived hundreds of miles away, but right in the path of that black cloud. As the cloud plunged the midday into midnight darkness, everybody scurried inside and watched the ashes rain down on the earth.


The next day, we awakened in a giant’s ashtray. Cities and towns were smothered in fine, glassy, gray ash—a few inches or a few feet, depending on how close you were to that volcano. Everything was gray. Everything was also eerily quiet. Life does not belong in an ashtray. The world looked dead.


But eventually, the ash buried itself in the ground and gave its mysterious nutrients to the earth. Life started over and even flourished. The mountain became green again. In our homes, farm crops and garden flowers grew again, healthier than ever. It turns out that those ugly ashes did not kill the earth but actually nourished it.


So it will be with the cicadas. They will not kill our earth, but by God’s wonderful evolutionary planning scheme, they will nourish many millions of other animals by their very existence—birds, fish, other insects, and everyone who likes these little bugs.


So it can be with us. In our big and little crises, God gives us the chance for a new beginning. And sometimes, our critical times may even, in the end, nourish us and help us to grow. In Jesus, we are given a second, and a third, and a forever chance to bury ourselves in the holy ground of God’s redemptive love, where we can start over and even flourish.

- Joanna+


I would love to hear your reactions and thoughts! Please respond at clergy@st-barnabas.org and let’s have a conversation!