Every day is a kind of dying. We "clack-clack" through the days, the months, the seasons, fumbling our way into winter. We are looking for Eden, or at least the breeze of it.
In the fall we struggle with weariness of it all: the meetings, the caravanning, the sports leagues, the book clubs and deadlines. We anticipate the harvest. We long to celebrate. We want to sleep. We are like the old pagan folks who looked to the Corn King to go into the cold ground and to rise, giving strength to the land and to the people.
And when we arrive in winter, after the harvest bounty celebrations, we rest with the shortened days. We wait for spring. In the dark mornings, through the thunder snow we wait for spring.
But we are not the pagan folks waiting out the winters in desperate yearning for relief, for new growth, for it all to happen yet again.
We are Eden folks, and we live in the rhythms of renewal.
God descends to reascend. He comes down; down from the heights of absolute being into time and space, down into humanity; down further still, if embryologists are right, to recapitulate in the womb ancient and pre-human phases of life; down to the very roots and seabed of the Nature He has created. But he goes down to come up again and bring the whole ruined world up with Him.
One has the picture of a strong man stooping lower and lower to get himself underneath some great complicated burden. He must stoop in order to lift, he must almost disappear under the load before he incredibly straightens his back and marches off with the whole mass swaying on his shoulders.
And this marks our days, our rhythms. Christ our Corn King he lifts us up. But he is no pagan deity who must die each year to bring the anticipatory hope of a harvest.
We folk live in perpetual harvest. We live in the space provided by the Corn King, the Strong Man who has lifted the great burden of sin and carried it away. And what are we left with? We are left with only a gift to bear. It is grace.
The grace to press on. The grace to get in the car yet again and grind on in our work and other various toils. But salvation paints it for us. It's a bloody canvass of life and mercy, of failure and victory and it all stands beneath the rain of Glory that washes our everyday pure and holy, so that we live in and breathe resurrection each day: renewal, reconciliation, redemption!
It seeps through all of life and it is right here and right now. And it is then, and forever too. It beckons us onward toward the eternal life won for us on this day, when the Corn King went into the depths of the cold dark earth and sprang up as Life itself.
Salvation to all who will taste the Harvest, and see, that He is good to eat, His blood sweet to sip. His life in ours, making us new, making each day new and livable, making eternity our goal.
Humanity must embrace death freely, submit to it with total humility, drink it to the dregs, and so convert it into that mystical death which is the secret of life.
For we folk are no more perpetually dying. We live, because He lives, our Corn King, our Rhythm Maker.
*The Corn King motif is taken from C.S. Lewis's Chapter 14 in Miracles titled "The Grand Miracle." The quotes in this post are taken from this chapter.
A brilliant expose of what really matters in life, just when it seemed we were about to forget.
-Gaby Lyons, Found of Q, author of The Next Christians
Timothy Willard is the author of five books, including Longing For More: Daily Reflections on Finding God in the Rhythms of Life and the forthcoming The Life-Giving Adventure of Chasing Beauty (Eerdmans, 2019). He has collaborated on over 20 books and has written, consulted and served as spiritual director for organizations such as Chick-fil-A, Catalyst, Q Ideas and Praxis Labs. When he’s not riding the trails in the Appalachian mountains you can find him by the fire with his three daughters and his wife making up stories about Tom the back yard badger. He lives somewhere in the south Charlotte woods.