By Kim Longden
One of my family’s favorite Easter traditions centers around the yearly planting of our Resurrection Garden. We started the Resurrection Garden tradition several years ago, and although I love it, I tend to forget about it until one of the kids reminds me at some point before Easter that it’s time to get it planted. I then run to the store to get seeds and soil, and we dig out last year’s pot getting it all arranged.
There are many ways to set up a Resurrection Garden (googling “Resurrection Gardens” will bring up tons of creative ideas), but it is basically a planter that looks like a garden and Christ’s tomb. We plant grass because it’s easy to care for and grows super fast—grass sprouts within a few days, which is handy for the years we don’t remember to plant the Garden until the week before Easter! Then comes the fun part of watering and watching each day for the grass to grow. The kids love this—it’s always exciting to see those first shoots spring up!
What’s nice about the presence and tending of our Resurrection Garden is that it becomes a visual reminder of what Easter is all about. On Good Friday we set the Resurrection Garden next to a make-shift candelabra my husband made that holds seven taper candles (dollar store tapers work great!). After we get home from our Good Friday church service, we gather near the candelabra and light all the candles. We go around and read the seven last words of Christ extinguishing the candles one-by-one as we go. After the final words are read and the last candle is extinguished, we place a large stone over the entrance of the Resurrection Garden tomb. The stone says, “It is Finished.”
The Garden is then placed in a prominent position in our house. As the weekend begins and the hustle and bustle of all our other Easter plans crowd in, we pass this reminder that “It is Finished” multiple times a day. I don’t know the impact these words have on anyone else’s heart, but they help me pause and refocus many times as I get caught up in the stress of hosting Easter dinner, making Easter baskets, and all the other things. “It is Finished” reminds me of what’s most important—Jesus’ finished work on the cross. Regardless of how clean the house ends up being or how the ham turns out, Easter will come, and the truth of my Risen Savior gives me an eternal perspective outshining all of these temporal cares.
On Easter Sunday morning, the first kid awake rolls away the stone revealing the empty tomb in the Resurrection Garden. The rolled away stone says, “He is Risen!” and it is the first thing we all see as we walk into the living room Easter morning. All throughout the day and for weeks afterward—when the candy has all been eaten and the Easter baskets are put away—the Resurrection Garden sits out proclaiming the eternal, never ending reason for Easter—“He is Risen!”
“He is risen indeed! Alleluia!”
After Ascension Sunday, the Resurrection Garden gets put away to lay dormant until the next Easter season when we will scramble to get it set up again.
Sowing a few grass seeds into a pot several years ago was the first step in a tradition that has grown into a multifaceted remembrance of Christ’s death and resurrection. I’ve noticed that this is often how traditions start—trying something small and then adding to it little by little as the years go by.
As we approach Holy Week, are there any new traditions you’ve been wanting to start? Looking back, I can see that the impact of traditions is a sum of many incremental steps taken throughout the years. Try something small this year and look forward to what direction God takes it as the years go by!