Faith Lift

Easter was coming, and though it should be a time of rejoicing, my heart was heavy.

I was about to become an official member of the church I had been going to for some time, but it bothered me that my husband did not share my spiritual beliefs. As a man of science, he is not comfortable with religion, and sometimes our discussions of God's creation versus the "big bang theory" made me feel that we were not on the same wavelength.

It must be true that opposites attract. While my husband is outgoing and loves to socialize, I am introverted and prefer solitude. We have different interests, and yet we have enjoyed a solid, happy marriage for over twenty-five years. For the most part, we respect each other's opinions, other than my wishing that we were more attuned to each other spiritually.

Beyond the picture window, the promise of spring hovered close. My gaze shifted to some houseplants near the front window, and I wondered if my Christmas cactus would ever bloom again. For years it had bloomed faithfully every Christmas, then again at Easter. Two years ago, I transplanted the cactus and it did not take kindly to its new environment. No blooms appeared that year. While it didn't thrive, neither did it die. It just existed.

The following year it was the same thing, so again I transplanted it, separating the roots, changing the soil, and hoping its new potted home would produce blossoms. This time the cactus seemed to perk up, and new growth appeared for the first time in two years. Christmas arrived, and I was delighted to see buds, but to my disappointment, they all fell off before they could burst into their dazzling orange-red splendour.

I felt like that cactus, safe in a non-threatening environment until it was time to grow, except then the growth didn't happen. I hoped we would both bloom when the time was right.

A few days later, I went alone to the candlelight Easter Vigil service. I chose not to tell my husband that I was becoming a church member, as I did not think I could bear his ambivalence. We shared everything else in our lives; why could we not share the same beliefs?

The church was decorated with yellow mums and white lilies. I should get a lily, I thought. Maybe I would have better luck with a lily than the Christmas cactus. I smiled when I saw my name in the church bulletin, welcoming me as a new member, and it inspired me to pray. Lord, lift this shadow from my soul. Show me something to strengthen my faith and make me more understanding of others' opinions.

After an inspirational service, I returned home, feeling both uplifted and downcast at the same time. Such conflicting emotions were giving me a headache. I spied a brown rabbit lying quietly on the lawn, observing me closely as I walked along the sidewalk. Something inside me shifted away from the gloom and doom, and I laughed to myself, thinking, "The Easter Bunny has come!" Was this the sign?

Inside the house, my mood brightened when I saw my Christmas cactus in bloom, its brightness almost illuminating the evening dusk. Maybe this was the sign.

When the family came for dinner on Easter Sunday, my niece brought me an elegant white lily, just what I had longed for. Was this the sign?

Around the table, four generations of family with different likes and dislikes were chattering and laughing, enjoying each other's company. The ache in my heart lightened and I realized just how blessed I was. I looked up from my reverie, caught my husband's eye, and our eyes locked. He wore such a look of love that I almost blushed at the intimacy of it. He winked. Reassurance flooded through me as we gazed at each other, unable to tear our eyes away and break the connection. Differing opinions or not, he is still the man I share my life with for better or for worse, even if he doesn't share my pew.

It came to me that I didn't really need fortifying signs of affirmation, but the Easter Bunny, Christmas cactus, and the lily had appeared to give my faith a lift.

Maria Harden copyright 2004

Maria is a writer at heart who lives and worships in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Check out her other stories in the 2theHeart archives. She is published regularly in a Canadian magazine called "Our Canada," as well as in websites, newspapers, and also the new 2theHeart book.

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