The Worst Isn't the Last Thing About the World (April 2021)
Spring is here and with the successful role out of the vaccines, life is starting to return to some kind of normality. Whilst we need to continue with our vigilance, there is much to be hopeful and thankful for.
Frederick Buechner’s famous line, ‘the worst isn’t the last thing about the world - it’s the next to last thing’ has been on my mind during preparations for Holy Week and Easter this year. Easter is about resurrection and it teaches us that even in times of deepest loss and tragedy we can have confidence that this isn’t the last thing, that life and hope will ultimately triumph. I’m also a firm believer that God also wants us to know resurrection joy and an abundant life now in this life, as well as in the next.
Nicola Slee’s marvellous Easter Garden book captures this message in its poetic weaving of Francis Hodgson Burnett’s Secrete Garden and Mary Magdalene’s encounter with the risen Lord in the Gospels. Resurrection is now as well as then…. it is here as well as there. The book also observes that this Good News of life after death … that the worst thing isn’t the last thing… is to be shared and celebrated.
Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden completes her healing not just with the coming of spring but in the sharing of her secret with others who are also in need of healing and new life. There is a working impulse in the garden itself which seems to compel proclamation and invitation. The garden’s secret is a secret that demands to be shared. For Mary Magdalene, too, the encounter in the garden is just the beginning. Just as she thought her life was ending in darkness, she finds life and hope. She is asked to not just learn to live again but that the secret she has discovered in the place of burial, like Mary Lennox’s, is not a secret to be kept, but a message that demands to be shared. Moving into morning and moving into the light of new creation, we can be confident that in his great love, Christ will wait for us where he has sent us and will go ahead of us and be there to meet us.
I’ll end with the full quote from Frederick Buechner that I think really captures something of the message of Easter that we are called to share:
‘The worst isn't the last thing about the world. It's the next to the last thing. The last thing is the best. It's the power from on high that comes down into the world, that wells up from the rock-bottom worst of the world like a hidden spring. Can you believe it? The last, best thing is the laughing deep in the hearts of the saints, sometimes our hearts even. Yes. You are terribly loved and forgiven. Yes. You are healed. All is well’.
I wish you a very happy and blessed Eastertide.
With love and best wishes