Posts Tagged ‘resurrection’

Last evening I spent a bit of time in a mud puddle in the middle of a dirt road. It was about six feet long, two feet wide, very muddy, with some green algae hanging around the edges. I peered in. One of the children on the other side  of the pool scooped some dirty water out with a small, clear plastic container.

“Ah,”  no exotic vernal pool species showed up, no fairy shrimp, only tadpoles about the size of short grain rice. Somebody else peering into the mud said cynically, “They probably won’t make it.” Life didn’t look promising here.  There was no mesa mint blooming at the edge of the puddle, only some tiny brass buttons in the grass a few feet away.

So where were the shrimp? If they were around, then they were still in the hardpan below the water,  in a cryptobiotic state.  They have sensed — not enough water.

Cryptobiosis is the state of life entered by a oganism in response to adverse environmental conditions such as drying. In the cryptobiotic state, all metabolic procedures stop, preventing reproduction, development, and repair. An organism in a cryptobiotic state can essentially live indefinitely until environmental conditions return to being hospitable. When this occurs, the organism will return to its metabolic state of life as it was prior to the cryptobiosis.

Smart, those shrimp. They knew it hadn’t rained enough. They were hanging out cryptobiotically. 

And the tadpoles, they had launched, optimistically, and they were frolicking in the vernal puddle, getting ready to become spadefoot toads. Rain is predicted for next weekend. It just might be enough to fill the puddle again, to give the tadpoles time.

I’m impressed. Tadpoles thrive in inhospitable places.

They had launched here, they had hatched with an expectation, with a kind of biological  faith in their survival. And for the moment, they were powering their way up and down their muddy lake, gaining weight and strength.

I thought of us, the living, here in the puddle of our now. We too have launched. This is it. Our present puddle is our present place to paddle.  We don’t have a choice to hang out cyrptobiotically and wait to become shrimp. This is our time.

Today we flip our fins through our own oddly chosen muddy creases in the earth and imagine ourselves someday getting out, onto land, and hopping off as spadefoots into the lovely brass buttons in the nearby grass.

What to do?


Mud puddle theology: We are not shrimp in a cryptobiotic state.


Mud puddle theology: We did not make the puddle we paddle through.


Muddle puddle theology: We do not know exactly when it will rain again and how much.   


Mud puddle theology: We have been given the power of movement.


There is inside of us a kind of built-in hope for more rain.

Flip, hopefully.

Life multiplies at an alarming rate. It springs fecund and prolific from an amazing variety of astonishing places. Birth and death and resurrection are everywhere, part and parcel of each other.

When I was I grade school my family had a dog that in one litter had 17 puppies. The poor thing.

In  the 17th C the first wife of Feodor Vassil-yev of Russia gave birth to four sets of quadruplets, 7 sets of triplets  and 16 twins. In her 27 pregnancies she produced — 69 children!

And some think two children are a challenge.

The insects easily top that. A queen bee can lay up to 1500 eggs per day. That’s scary prolific.

A powerful fecundity is pulsing through the blood stream of the universe; on earth every spring life even shoots up out of death.

 We make goofy movies about death turning back to life, movies like “The Mummy,” where the dead are accidentally awakened for unknown reasons. Silly Hollywood; resurrection isn’t weird and paranormal; it is as common as birth and seeds and eggs. It is part of nature, built into life, how things normally work.

Take red tail hawks. My dad tells me a red tail hawk lives near his apartment in Alhambra. My dad has never seen his hawk friend eat. There is a McDonalds nearby. But sometimes my dad says he finds a pile of pigeon feathers and bones on the ground. I guess his hawk doesn’t eat fast food. Obviously, not fast enough! The slow pigeons die for the fast hawk to live. Wendell Barry, the great environmentalist wrote in his famous essay “Wilderness:”  “We can only live at the expense of other lives.”  Every death fuels another life.

Take seeds. Burbee seed companies sale are up. Why? Seeds work. Well, they work for most of us. When it comes to planting things, some people claim they have the death touch. Really? Most everything everyone plants, dies and lives again.

Take a poppy seed, put it in the ground, it sprouts, a plant appears, it grows, it flowers in a kind of celebratory shout at the end of a stem, and then the poppy drops in head in death and out of it salt shaker pod falls seeds. They are buried in the ground; they winter over and then with the warm of spring and the rain they rise again with new life. Every sprouting seed is a kind of resurrection.

Resurrection is more common than that: it is familiar as your bed. Every day you lay down and sleep; you temporarily die, and you are resurrected, with some variation, the next morning. Working people resurrect as early as 5 am; teenagers left undisturbed, resurrect closer to noon or one.  Whatever the hour, a rebirth begins everyday life.

Getting up is resurrection. And the older you get, the more it feels like you are emerging from the grave.

We were at the tide pools recently. We found a Sea Star. It was regenerating an arm. A few species can grow an entirely new sea star just from a portion of a severed limb. Amazing, but we share this power. After we are cut, our skin heals over. Our livers can regenerate from as little as 25% of the original.

It is widely claimed that God raised Jesus from the dead. I believe God did that. It follows logically from what most of us believe. Most people on earth believe there is a God. And they believe he made the universe. So if God did that, and he built life and death into it, then he has the power of life and death, and he can raise the dead. This resurrection of Jesus has been called the grand miracle of creation. It is. It is a unique, special, death-reversing, life-giving, new order of events.

But it is not weird, it is not beyond what we would expect of an all-creating God, and it is not entirely unlike other things we can see all the time; the resurrection claim is reinforced by similar events every day. We continuously see things regenerate themselves. In the resurrection of Jesus, God regenerated himself.

Odd to you? Then you must think the universe odd. Odd? We need this kind of odd. We need to tap into this class of oddity.

History is full of kinds of resurrection, artistic, social, psychological, technological resurrections — the renaissance, the reformation and the scientific revolution.

So is the history of finance. Businesses are revived all the time. Careers are resurrected every day. So are aging rock stars. So are wounded soldiers. So are defeated psyches. So are sick children.

Resurrection is normal. Look around. Look inside. Are you going through a death-like experience? You can be resurrected. Believe that. It happens all the time.

Open your eyes. Is it death? Out of that can spring new life.