Lanterns and Life, in the Spring and Beyond
By Joanna W, February 26, 2014
- Red Chinese New Year lanterns
- sway in the wind on naked trees.
- Once covered in leaves and blossoms,
- the branches are now decorated by mortal man
- to symbolize prosperity, blessing, and wealth.
- Seasons change, leaves and blossoms come and go in due time,
- just as the Father planned it.
- For while blossoms wilt and die,
- and leaves turn brown and fall off,
- the soil is rich and the roots pour nutrients to live by
- into the dry, dismal-looking soil.
- Leaves on our most prized plants turn yellow,
- then brown and we watch on with dismay,
- feeling hopelessly helpless,
- yet, has He not promised life?
- Our fears and dismay at the sight of sickness and death blind us
- from the promise of a better time.
- For isn’t it only natural?
- While, to the naked eye, it looks like the tree has given up life itself,
- it’s really just biding its time.
- Forsaking daily extravagance, it stockpiles resources so that,
- at the appropriate time,
- it might burst forth with life and blossom–
- shouting messages of life and hope.
- Where is our decoration then?
- The once-ornate lanterns look like a gaudy reminder
- that man’s way pales in comparison
- to the brilliance of an eternal spring to come.
- Winds may come and blow the lanterns about,
- but the tree is not uprooted.
- Rains come down and leave a pathetic trail
- of red dye and soggy paper,
- melted over silk tassel, but still, the tree remains.
Are not we, the Church, the tree?
- Lanterns are a beautiful part of the Chinese New Year. Talk about the “beautiful parts” of other holiday celebrations you know about.
- Trees go through a seasonal cycle. Talk about that cycle. What are some other things that go through a seasonal cycle?
- In your own words, summarize the main points of this poem. First, talk about the natural or visible things that Joanna is writing about. Then try to express her deeper, “unseen” point.
- We all know that someday, every custom and celebration will change, and every colorful decoration will pass away. Talk about the “celebrations” enjoyed 2000 years ago; how many of them still remain? Talk about your favorite holiday decorations from childhood; how many of them still remain?
- From the author’s perspective, how is ‘the Church’ different from man-made celebrations?
Partial answer to #2
The cycle of fruit-bearing plants: seed, sprout, grows to maturity, flower, pollinate, fruit, harvest, wilt, lose leaves, die.
The cycle of a school year: registration, meet the teacher, meet classmates, learn the class rules, learn a subject, test, make friends (lose friends, make new friends), seasonal sports, repeat, take final exams, move to the next grade
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