When Resurrection Takes Time

“The way of possibility is the way of going through.” John S. Dunne

It’s a good thing Easter is a season and not just a day because some resurrections take time.  Like the coming of spring, some resurrections happen gradually; they are not overnight sensations. And yet somehow, we need to experience these as miracles too.

Fortunately, the Easter season (fifty days, eight Sundays, seven weeks—however you want to look at it) is longer than Lent because there are some areas of our lives where resurrection takes longer than dying. The Church calendar itself teaches us that “the implications of the resurrection—its explosive force—call for an extended period of exploration and appropriation.”* For us mere mortals, Easter cannot be done in a day.

To help celebrate the slower and yet no-less-miraculous resurrections we experience (or long to experience) in this life, we offer this poem from our beloved A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants.

Long, long, long ago;
Way before this winter’s snow
First fell upon these weathered fields;
I used to sit and watch and feel
And dream of how the spring would be,
When through the winter’s stormy sea
She’d raise her green and growing head,
Her warmth would resurrect the dead.

Long before this winter’s snow
I dreamt of this day’s sunny glow
And thought somehow my pain would pass
With winter’s pain, and peace like grass
Would simply grow.  The pain’s not gone.
It’s still as cold and hard and long
As lonely pain has ever been,
It cuts so deep and fear within.

Long before this winter’s snow
I ran from pain, looked high and low
For some fast way to get around
Its hurt and cold.  I’d have found,
If I had looked at what was there,
That things don’t follow fast or fair.
That life goes on, and times do change,
And grass does grow despite life’s pains.

Long before this winter’s snow
I thought that this day’s sunny glow,
The smiling children and growing things
And flowers bright were brought by spring.
Now I know the sun does shine,
That children smile, and from the dark, cold, grime
A flower comes. It groans, yet sings,
And through its pain, its peace begins.


Mary Ann Bernard. From Rueben Job and Norman Shawchuck, eds., A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants (Nashville, TN: The Upper Room, 1983) p. 144.

*Bobby Gross, Living the Church Year (Downers Grove, IL:  InterVarsity Press, 2009)p. 95.

©Ruth Haley Barton, 2011. Not to be reproduced without permission. Ruth is the founder of the Transforming Center. As spiritual director, teacher and retreat leader, she is the author of numerous articles, books, and resources on the spiritual life.

Access Lectionary Readings for the Season of Easter from the Revised Common Lectionary.

Ruth Haley Barton

(Doctor of Divinity, Northern Seminary) is founding president/CEO of the Transforming Center. A teacher, seasoned spiritual director (Shalem Institute), and retreat leader, she is the author of numerous books and resources on the spiritual life including Life Together in Christ, Pursuing God’s Will Together, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, Sacred Rhythms, and Invitation to Solitude and Silence.


  1. Jeff Hyatt on April 12, 2012 at 2:25 am

    Thank you for giving voice to the possibility of a resurrection that takes time. New life comes at different speeds, but it is the work of the Spirit nonetheless.

    • Ruth Barton on April 13, 2012 at 4:34 pm

      Yes, indeed it is.

  2. Judith Tod on April 11, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    Thank you for the Stations of the Cross and this poem. I read them just days after my divorce went to court. I thought not only how Jesus faced sorrow and humiliation with trust in God, but was moved to remember and write how many ways I have to be grateful to God for his love for me and through others when I thought many times I was just a seed in the cold earth, buried, forgotten and alone.

  3. Carol on April 11, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    Quietly hiked rolling hills for about nine miles on Friday afternoon with two friends for three hours. Read and meditated through the Stations of the Cross during the time. It was rich, rich, rich! I loved the recurring title “Lord Jesus Christ, Our Teacher on the Way”–what a great way to call Him–Isn’t He? The applications of each Station’s lessons were so deep and beautiful. Thank you so much!!

  4. Diane Trail on April 11, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Thanks for the timely poem. My daughter in late twenties with three young children just tried to commit suicide. She’s a Christian but struggling with depression. I’m going to pass the poem on to her.

    Also, I found the Stations of the Cross but would have appreciated more Christ-focussed meditations as well as personal application. This is the first time I have ever done Stations of the Cross. I come from a Christian tradition that uses very little liturgy.

  5. Karen May on April 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    Sharing Stations of the Cross as a worship service on Good Friday was very meaningful. I had many comments from congregants. But I especially enjoyed the time I spent in meditation with the material that afternoon. My husband is very ill and in a lot of pain – so there is pain for me too – and the poem was moving and timely. Thanks for all you do – for all the good you do.

  6. Julie McCarty on April 11, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    I needed to hear this poem so much today. I want to celebrate the 50 days of Easter, but I felt a little blue today, and this message helped me so much. Thanks a million!!!!

  7. Sheila Gilillamd on April 11, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    The Stations of the Cross was very meaningful, more so than any I had done in the past. I liked the way you made it personnel. It has lingered with in me for much longer. I don’t think that it has left me yet.
    Thank you,

  8. Pauline Loughhead on June 1, 2011 at 2:34 am

    As I sat reflecting on this beautiful [and for me timely] poem, it came to my mind that many fruit trees will not bear fruit unless they winter through a dormant period that is cold, below a certain number of degrees;some bulbs likewise will bear no blossom without six weeks of cold dormancy. It is good to know that our Creator God has a plan as I sit and reflect on a recent cold and seemingly dormant spell. I can look forward to growth and blossom and fruit. Jesus told us that unless a seed falls into the ground and dies it will not be fruitful, but how easy it is to forget this when we are in the middle of it. Thank you for this reminder, it offers hope.

    • Ruth Barton on June 2, 2011 at 1:57 am

      I’m so glad!

  9. Easter Takes Longer than Lent | Easter on May 27, 2011 at 12:27 am

    […] was intrigued as we review this from Ruth Haley Barton’s recent e-newsletter from a Transforming […]

  10. Linda Stoll on May 26, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    Thank you for the reminder that like seeds planted in the ground, many good things in our lives come only after there’s been much nuturing, watering, feeding, tending, fertilizing, sunlight, storms, and pruning. The tree does not bear fruit in two days. It may take seasons. It is usually a process.

    And that is ok. The Gardener of our souls continues to pour His Spirit out on us, and the fruit of that Spirit is ours. Sometimes it just takes awhile for us to see that fruit come into full blossom.

    The Gardener patiently loves and nurtures us and brings that fruit to fruition. And then we are able to bless others …

  11. Pastor Tony Doehrmann on May 26, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Thank you for the beautiful and timely poem. A portion of our worship service this Sunday is a candlelighting element meant to help us remember loved ones we have lost.

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