Road trip across America: A memorial for Holy Week

Oklahoma City marked our midway point of the trip from California to North Carolina. So it feels appropriate, here in the middle of Holy Week, that I share with you a memorial that carries its visitors from horror to hope. After all, that’s what Holy Week is all about: a walk through the horrors of Christ’s arrest and crucifixion to the hope of Easter’s empty tomb.

The Oklahoma City National Memorial sits at the site of the former Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and serves as a reminder of the unspeakable terror that, on April 19, 1995, killed 168 people, including children who attended a daycare on the building’s second floor. The memorial is somber and serene, a way to honor those lost and to remind us all that life continues.

9:01 marks the moment before the explosion.

A reflecting pool leads across from the 9:01 gate to the 9:03 gate, a time that marked the moment when healing would have to begin.

A field of empty chairs, nine rows for the nine floors of the building, with smaller chairs for the children killed.

The small chairs for the children were the hardest for me to see, especially for the same last names on some of the chairs and the knowledge of what that meant for those children’s surviving families.

The Survivor Tree still stands, and though not yet blooming when we visited, it has just recently begun its springtime renewal.

I recommend watching a video of the outdoor grounds of the memorial, whether you are planning a visit in person or simply want to make a virtual visit. You can also follow the memorial on Twitter (@OKCNM), where they have just this morning tweeted an update on the Survivor Tree.

I’ll leave off today with a wish for your journey toward Easter to leave you filled with hope.

The Easter legend of the dogwood

My mom and I were discussing dogwoods recently. They’re the state flower for North Carolina and the state tree/memorial tree/floral emblem for several other states (Missouri, New Jersey, Virginia).

We’re fortunate to have two pink dogwoods growing in our yard, and they’re in bloom right now, just in time for Easter.

Have you heard the Easter legend of the dogwood? I thought I’d share the version I’ve always heard with you today, this Wednesday of Holy Week. Perhaps you’ve heard a different version? Or never heard the legend at all? It goes a little something like this … Continue reading

A virtual Easter basket

The last two weeks have brought some dark days for me. I’ve struggled with “Love thy neighbor” and the call to forgive. Wrath, fear and sadness have threatened to overwhelm me. Maybe you’ve been going through dark days of your own?

Holy Week marks Jesus’ darkest days but also His greatest triumph. Our messed-up brokenness nailed Christ to the cross but could not keep Him there. God’s grace is stronger than our greatest failings in ourselves and with each other.

Because of that first Easter Sunday, we are heading through the dark with a promise of light and an empty tomb on the other side.

I’ve been clinging to the beauty of Easter and its cheerful celebrations. Growing up, we always dyed Easter eggs and then hunted for them and for baskets full of delightful goodies.

Today, I give you a virtual basket of Easter goodies. There are no dyed eggs or foil-wrapped chocolates, but these Easter colors are vibrant and worth savoring. May they bring a bit of light into whatever darkness you’re facing, and may they remind you of the unconquerable Light in the garden of the empty tomb.

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Peace, blessings and joy to you this Easter, my friends!