The Wonder of an Alien Affection: A Holy Week Meditation

“… Nevertheless (and that is a good resurrection word), the strong love of God always has the final word. Nothing can hold it back from working out its purposes. Not only does the Holy One experience our suffering as though it were his own, he is also relentlessly seeking to bring light and life where there seems to be only darkness and death. When this happens for us, even in a small way, we experience a “little Easter.”… Just about any time we are surprised with new possibilities for life and healing in the midst of brokenness and decay, there is a “little Easter” that gives us a glimpse of the resurrection power of God’s love made manifest in the crucified and risen Jesus.”  

This year during Holy Week, we wanted to share these words from South African pastor Trevor Hudson. A few Rooted writers will share some “little Easters” of their own. We hope these “glimpses of the resurrection power of God’s love” will enlighten the eyes of your faith as you look toward the Cross and to the empty tomb.

Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed.

My husband Jeff loved to tease me and our kids about our idiosyncrasies. The son who ate only chicken fingers was “chickenboy,” the son who loved Milk Duds got eight wrapped boxes of Milk Duds for his eighth birthday. He was truly charmed by our “weirdness” (as he called it), and he was the first to poke fun at his own oddities too.

As his plant-loving wife, I got an earful about my love for succulents, which in his mind looked “like they should grow on the moon.” At the time succulents weren’t popular like they are now, and he gave me no end of grief when I carried a box of them back home on the plane after a trip to see family in San Diego. “You can’t buy those things back home because they are weird, honey; no one likes them but you.” His affectionate teasing was warm as sunshine to our boys and me. When he died, we sorely missed his playfulness.

One afternoon three months after he died, I found myself furious with grief. In that moment I lamented the loss of my sweetheart, the one who knew me better than anyone else. I poured out my frustrations at God: who else in the world knows I am always cold and need a jacket? Who else knows (or cares) that I love dark chocolate cake? Who will bring me tropicana roses ever again? After twenty-one years together, no one knew or cared about my details like Jeff did. Our closeness seemed gone forever because we would not be married in heaven.

I confess that afternoon I really let God have it for allowing my husband to die. I felt robbed of affection, attention, of giving and receiving, of being known. I couldn’t imagine what life would look like without my person, and I poured out my complaints to God like a spoiled child. But when carpool time came, I wiped my tears and blew my nose and went to pick up my boys.

When I got back home with the kids, I walked up to our front door, only to see a lovely concrete planter overflowing with succulents sitting on the doorstep.

All I could do was laugh and shake my head in wonder at the deeply personal playfulness of God.

In all their gray-green alien weirdness, those plants spoke to me of my Father in heaven who not only knew my details but cared enough to show me the affection I thought I had lost forever. Without words he told me that he sees me. He knows me, actually better than Jeff did. He knows what I need and when I need it. He feels every tear I shed. When I am upset with him, he draws closer to me. The Maker of my soul is also the Lover of my soul. Truly, this is the God who cares to number the hairs on our heads.

I later learned that a friend had seen the planter at a garden shop and had a fleeting thought that she ought to buy it for me. She had no idea I loved succulents, and she certainly did not know that Jeff had teased me for it. She didn’t need to know because God knew, and he spoke to me in a deeply personal, wordless exchange that soothed my throbbing heart.

That planter of succulents did not end my grief, nor did it restore my lost husband. Our family reunion remains a future hope. But in the now-and-not-yet, God reminds me that his affection went all the way to the cross for me, to secure my belonging forever.

Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by name, you are mine…

Because you are precious in my eyes,

And honored, and I love you. (Isa. 43:1,4)


Please see also our featured podcast: “Little Easters” with Robert Row

Anna is a single mom of three young adult sons. She is the Senior Director of Content at Rooted, co-host of the Rooted Parent podcast, a member of Church of the Cross in Birmingham, AL, and the author of God's Grace for Every Family: Biblical Encouragement for Single Parent Families and the Churches That Seek to Love Them Well (Zondervan, 2024). She also wrote Fresh Faith: Topical Devotions and Scripture-Based Prayers for College Students. In her free time, Anna enjoys gardening, great books, running, hiking, hammocks, and ice cream. She wants to live by a mountain stream in Idaho someday.

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