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Happy Easter! The long journey of Lent is behind us. Now is the time to rejoice!
Since it is the day after Easter Sunday, it seemed appropriate to start off with a post on an ornament done for Hallmark in 2004, called "Thirsty Cardinal." This ornament is particulary fitting to think about at this time of the year. On Good Friday, just 3 short days ago, we hear the words uttered by Christ on the cross "I thirst." In her now famous vision on the train, Mother Teresa hears these words spoken to her by Jesus and she immediately understoond them to mean that Jesus thirsts for souls. These words and this understanding became her motivating guidance through the decades of service she offered to God and the world. She went in search of souls for Christ.
Along that same line of thought, the words "I thirst" refer to Jesus' own intense, overarching desire to bring the Kingdom of God to earth, a kingdom that is obedient to the will of the Father. Jesus institutes this kingdom by his death, and models for us that it is through obedience to the will of the Father, even when that is very difficult and hard, that new life can arise. The door to the Kingdom of God is through dying to self.
This ornament reflects that idea visually. The cardinal is perched on a watering can. Cardinals, and birds in general, were usually seen as messengers of the gods in the ancient world. For example, the dove that hovered above Jesus at his baptism symbolized the presence of the Holy Spirit. With their brilliant red plumage, cardinals are said to be messengers from heaven, sent for reassurance or reminders, often as a reminder of a specific person who has passed on. Although cardinals are not mentioned specifically in the Bible, when one lands nearby it is difficult to ignore him or feel like it is not special ocurrance. There is just something very striking about the presence of a cardinal. If nothing else, one is aware of experiencing something that we don't see everyday, of seeing something beautiful and stirring. One such cardinals is perched on the watering can, and is described as "thirsty."
We assume the watering can is filled with water, otherwise why would the cardinal be there? Having just gone through the Easter Triduum, the words "Living Water" by which Jesus describes himself, are very much on our minds. Outside on the watering can are painted pink and yellow tulips, signs of spring, of new life, of the earth waking up and growing into a beautiful place.
This ornament then, is a perfect companion for Easter. The living water, Jesus, has given his life to inaugarate the kingdom of God. It is this Living Water that will flow out into the world, warming it and nurturing it until the end of time when the Kingdom of God fully arrives. We will see evidence of Jesus' presence in the new life- spiritually, mentally even physically- of those who choose to follow the path of Christ in seeking to do the will of the Father.
The brilliant red of the cardinal also reminds us that Penetecost is on the horizon. The Holy Spirit will descend as flames upon the heads of the apostles, hidden in the Upper Room, and give them the courage and confidence to go out and proclaim the Good News. This ornament reminds us to keep Jesus' words, and meditate on the actions that have taken place in these last few days because "the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in [Jesus'] name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything" Jesus has said. (John 14:26) The Easter story is not yet finished! We still await the descent of the Holy Spirit.