The day between Good Friday and Easter has a kind of shocked, sad silence to it. Not so much in my neighborhood with birds singing on every twig and an elementary school having an Easter egg hunt. But in churches where yesterday the altar was stripped of cloth and ornament and now there’s nothing on the bare altar, or only a plaited crown resting on its long thin thorns, there’s a sad silence, a gentle echo of the aftermath of old violence.
There’s a rawer silence in an old-growth forest somewhere. Trees are mortal and they die, bugs get under the bark and woodpeckers drill out the bugs and make holes to nest in and it’s still a part of the fabric of life. But a hale old tree logged and turned into upscale furniture leaves a tree-sized fissure in the forest. There’s a silence in an oil-smothered Louisiana marsh. There’s shock in the sea behind a trawl net that just scraped up everything like a watery bulldozer. And infinite sadness in the extinction of a species that was flourishing in its ecosystem but inconvenient, or like the passenger pigeon too conveniently easy to kill. By profound coincidence, yesterday was both Good Friday and Earth Day. A facetious quiz went around, asking “what are you doing to celebrate Earth Day?” with answers like “wear Birkenstocks.” My answer would have been “go to Church to mourn the ongoing crucifixion of nature.”