March 31, 2024 Essay: A Tuft of Snowdrops in a Storm

Mar 25, 2024

Jostling crowds, the cacophony of a thousand voices, tension in the air, the presence of fear as a constant companion, the detritus of conflict on city streets and in distant lands, civility smothered and forgotten, dreams extinguished, hope hidden, and anger spewing out from all quarters—there is a darkness that veils the possibility of bringing out the best in people, that threatens and overwhelms and leads its victims to their baser instincts, all under the banner of survival and advantage at any cost. Is this a world of the past that periodically, like a Phoenix, rises from its ashes? The holy city of Jerusalem as Jesus Christ would have experienced it while being led to his death? Jerusalem today? Gaza today? Ukraine today? The world of today?

Like a storm growing in intensity as it is about to break through its vortex, events in our daily lives have the tenacity to try to weaken our conviction that what God created is good, all God’s creation, and not simply select portions of it. We imagine barbarians at the gate, or border, who are about to rout us into submission. And yet, for those who proclaim the greatest event in human history, the resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ, a tiny ember flickers, like a sentinel of hope, in a world of darkness, a spark of divinity waiting to inflame the world and shatter the woeful shackles of history. For, as you see, the world that the disciples of Jesus Christ experienced is not unlike the worlds experienced throughout history. The lesson to be learned, and yet to be grasped, from their experience is that there is nothing to fear, that it is possible to stand firm against the allure of might, wealth, and power.

In his poem, On Seeing a Tuft of Snowdrops in a Storm, William Wordsworth wrote about the first signs of hope that spring forth in the waning assault of Winter.

When haughty expectations prostrate lie,
And grandeur crouches like a guilty thing,
Oft shall the lowly weak, till nature bring
Mature release, in fair society
Survive, and Fortune’s utmost anger try;
Like these frail snowdrops that together cling,
And nod their helmets smitten by the wing
Of many a furious whirlblast sweeping by.
Observe the faithful flowers! if small to great
May lead the thoughts, thus struggling used to stand
The Emathian phalanx, nobly obstinate;
And so the bright immortal Theban band,
Whom onset, fiercely urged at Jove’s command,
Might overwhelm, but could not separate!

Like a tuft of snowdrops, the first disciples of Jesus Christ stood together against a tempest backdrop of darkness, despair, and human suffering. Nothing could separate them from one another or from their belief in Jesus Christ. They became the heralds of his message of justice, peace, and the inherent goodness of all God’s creation. Buffeted by the winds of condemnation, suspicion, and fear, they held firm and resolutely witnessed the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness, and hope over despair.

In many ways today the world is being assaulted by the wintry blasts of darkness. It anguishes to catch even a glimpse of a snowdrop. It is now our turn, as it has been throughout the ages, to follow the example of the first disciples and become sentinels of hope who reflect the radiant brilliance of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Darkness has been vanquished; death defeated. May we have the audacity to plant seeds of hope in everything that we do and say, so that our efforts may redound to the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls.

May your celebration of the season of Easter be filled with all God’s blessings! Happy Easter!

Dennis J. Yesalonia, S.J., Pastor