Pastor Don's Journal Articles
“April is the cruellest month...mixing memory and desire."
-- T.S. Eliot, "The Wasteland", 1922
I have never really understood what the poet meant by designating the first full month of spring in this way. Beautiful, full of hope and promise, inviting -- but hardly cruel. I love April, and look forward to its arrival from the moment the summer ends each year. More so, the older I get.
April is often the month when Easter is celebrated, and I like it better now than in the colder, more uncertain days of March. Better for sunrise services, children's egg hunts, and the flowered cross out in front of our church. Fewer excuses people can give to miss the grandest Sunday of the year, too.
I take my lunches outside when I can. And on evenings when it is not too cool, my suppers, too. At least a few minutes out on the deck, looking up at the moon and the stars, and out to the lake for the night sounds of teeming nature.
Maybe he calls it cruel because April 15, tax day, our annual face off with the IRS, is right in the middle. But Eliot was British, so that can't be it.
Or on account of the yard work that beckons and will not be put off any longer, despite the heavy pollen. That's getting closer.
I think that he considers April a cruel month because it is a time of awakening -- in nature, and in our lives, too -- and we have grown too comfortable hibernating and covering over our feelings. A cold blanket of snow can numb us. If we are depressed, and the poem suggests that, then our depression is thrown into stark relief. Spring is a time of flowers and romance -- for some, but not for everyone. "They're writing songs of love, but not for me," wrote the Gershwins.
Along with the very obvious message of Easter, April itself calls all of us to renewal and new life. A fresh start and another chance. We still feel the pain of the past, maybe at first even more sharply in the warmth of the sun -- but we can let all of that go in repentance (or forgiveness) and learn to bask in the sunlight.
It is most often in April that we remember the cruel death of Jesus on the cross. Good Friday being another expression hard for some to understand. It is only called good, by the way, in English. The more common designation is Holy Friday. Still, we can speak of it as being both cruel and good, because we realize that it was by His unimaginable suffering on Calvary that we are able to be reconciled to God. A very good result, indeed. And ultimately cruel, and pointless, only if you reject or neglect what He accomplished for you there.
PS -- Audrey and I are celebrating this April over the news that John Mark and Daniela will be moving back to the United States sometime in the months ahead. He is taking a new position in his company and eventually they will make their home in Austin, Texas. "Mixing memory and desire"? -- They are having to begin saying their goodbyes to dear friends and Daniela's close family. That's lots of tears, even as they look forward to an exciting new chapter in their lives. I've never been there, but I hear that Austin is beautiful in the springtime.