You might never have heard of the Anastatica hierochuntica, otherwise call a “Rose of Jericho,” but it has some fascinating properties which you can see demonstrated in several YouTube videos. It is actually a tumbleweed found in the Sahara Desert and other arid portions of the Middle East. It dries up in the desert heat looking like it’s totally dead, and it can tumble around the desert sometimes for years. If you were to see one you might think it only a wad of dead leaves. But when it tumbles into some water or the rainy season comes a funny thing happens. The leaves unfurl and their color changes from a lifeless brown to vibrant green. The plant springs to life in a matter of hours. Of course, it can’t tumble around without water indefinitely. If it went a decade without water it would probably stay brown and withered since it deadness can become a habit. But the plant is designed to bear times of trial in anticipation of those times of renewal and rejuvenation.
And for its rebirth, all the Rose of Jericho needs is a little bit of water.
The forty day period before Easter, usually called “Lent,” is traditionally a time to remember the forty day temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. We do this by facing our own temptations in our own wilderness. It’s a time to confront the cold hard challenges that most of us would like to put off indefinitely. It can be a time of profound spiritual growth as we tumble around our arid landscape. But we can’t live forever devoid of pleasure. Rough times always need to be punctuated by times of refreshment – even for Jesus. And Lent is always followed by Easter.
Jesus tells the Samaritan woman at the well, “…those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life." (John 4:14 NRSV).
Easter (April 21st of this year) is the time to drink fully of that water so we, like the Rose of Jericho, can spring to life with joy and anticipation.
Appropriately enough the Rose of Jericho is part of a class of flora called “Resurrection Plants” so called because they bounce back to life when nourished. And we are “Resurrection People.” We bounce to life as well, fed by the Easter power of Jesus Christ.
Christ is risen and we, like him, are victorious over death itself. Life rises triumphant from the grave. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness could not overpower it. So as the cold winter months finally draw to an end, this is the time to celebrate and rejoice.
Check out our Cantata. Share in our Bible Study. Renew your friendships. Enjoy the flowers and the beauty around us. Dare to laugh. Start to bloom. And like the Rose of Jericho allow God to fill your dead withered leaves with nourishment and life.
Christ is risen. That’s our signal to follow his example and, like the Rose of Jericho, spring back to life.