April 2, 2021 Doug Shaw

For a while, when I was in middle-school, I had the good fortune of living on a 1,200-acre ranch in central Washington State. We lived on the last ranch outside of a small cow town in the foothills of the Stewart Mountain range.

I first lived on this same ranch when I was three years old. My dad was the foreman on both occasions. In fact, he was the only paid employee, so bearing the title “foreman” was a bit of a stretch.

But living way out in the country had its benefits. We had three horses, two tractors, and miles and miles of sagebrush to roam around. It was the perfect stage for a kid with a vivid imagination.

The old farmhouse that I loved so much when I was three burned to the ground one night when no one was around. All that was left were ashes where, for nearly a century, that farmhouse provided shelter for generations of families who lived and worked on the ranch.

A new house was built right next to the blackened pile of ashes with its charred wood and bristling, rusty, and sharp nails sticking out. It was a place of extreme fascination for me when we returned to live on the ranch for a second time.

I would walk around the scorched pile trying to figure out the various rooms I used to live and play in with my sisters. By the time we moved back to the ranch, blades of grass had begun to poke through the ash, mostly around the edges of the devastation.

One day, while circling the remains of the old place, I came across a flower, blowing in the ever-present central Washington wind. It was a bright pink wild rose, sitting at the top of about eight inches of a twisted and thorny stem. I did what many children do when they find an unexpected flower—I picked it, took it into the house, and grandly presented it to my mother.

My mom had a way of making the gifting of a flower feel like the receiving of a mink coat. I always felt like a better person for having made the presentation.

As a woman who practiced a very authentic Christian faith, my mom also had a way of making certain that her children knew the spiritual aspects of living. In this case, we were just days away from Easter. Upon learning that I had found the rose rising from the ashes of the beloved old ranch house, she quickly made the connection to resurrection. From death came the beauty of life.

As we look to Easter 2021, there are many ashes remaining from 2020. Millions of families on God’s earth will be looking for signs of life after the death of their beloved parents, spouses, children, and friends. We would do well to remember the words of Jesus, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die,” (John 11:25 New International Version). May you have a blessed Easter!

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