United Church of Christ

Viriditas

"When he entered the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus said to them, 'Do you believe that I am able to do this?' They said to him, 'Yes, Lord.' Then he touched their eyes and said, 'According to your faith let it be done to you.'" - Matthew 9:27-28

I remember the first time I realized, about 32 winters in, that the trees where I lived in New England lacked foliage fully six months out of every year. For half of my life, I had been walking around in a Spartan moonscape. What a recipe for depression!

And yet, every spring, over several magical days, nature delivered on her promise to move the dial from "apparently dead" to "most certainly alive." Forsythia arrived on the scene like so many jazz hands. Fetal maple leaves emerged damp and exhausted from twig-ends.

The most wondrous part of the blossoming is that new life emerged from such a sorry-looking source. Dead branches didn't fall off, making way for new young shoots. The branches themselves grew young again. The shivering gray sprays of rosebush greened from within. External cues—warmth, and the angle of the sun—catalyzed a change within every tree, shrub, square foot of earth.

The visionary medieval abbess Hildegard of Bingen spoke often of "viriditas," the greening of things from the inside out as physical things respond to the Divine energy unleashed on the world.

This story of Jesus healing the blind ones is a story of viriditas. Jesus might be magic, but even he can't perform miracles without the active participation of the one who would grow greener.

"Do you believe that I am able to do this?" he asks the blind ones. In their simple answer lies everything: "Yes, Lord." The "Lord" recognizes God's power. The "Yes" recognizes ours.

What in you has seemed defoliated and dead for a long time? What spring have you been waiting for, passively? Can you put your face in the sun, and let it call to a hidden, dormant power in you? Can you believe that Jesus is Lord of Life, and has the agency to heal anyone—even you?

Prayer

God, with every YES I have, with everything that is inside of me waiting to burst forth, green me. Amen.

About the Author
Molly Baskette is Senior Minister of the First Church of Berkeley, California, and the author of the best-selling Real Good Church and Standing Naked Before God.

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