Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral

Article | April 14, 2023

Congregation Update: Easter Season and Cherry Blossoms

Blog|The Rev. Canon Dr. Greg Kimura, Ph. D.

The change in weather last Sunday — Easter — truly felt like an atmospheric change to the Easter season. The warm sun came out, and all the rain of the previous months made the earth green with new life. It doesn’t always happen, but this year, the weather embodied Easter resurrection in the Bay Area.

This time of the year is also the cherry blossom festival season. Last weekend’s and this weekend’s festivities will continue in San Francisco Japantown at the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival. In Japan, this season is an important time of celebration, as the country is covered with cherry and plum trees that blossom for just a few days or a little over a week.

The beauty of the cherry blossom, or “Sakura,” is embodied in this quick transformation. The trees bud, then blossom, then the flowers fall from the branches, covering the surrounding ground in pink and white. The air is perfumed with their smell.

The arrival of Sakura marks spring and the change to warmer seasons. Their brief presence points to the annual renewal of life, hope, and the year’s cycles. Many poems, books, music, art, and movies take up the image of Sakura, such that it is an inextricable part of Japanese culture.

The blooming of Sakura and their brief life span is also traditionally a metaphor for the transitoriness of life and eternal return. Things are born to die. We are born, we live, and we pass into greater glory. 

In the case of Sakura, the blossoms fall while still alive (unlike, I suppose, a leaf on a deciduous tree), adding another dimension to the metaphor. They point to how, while alive, we should live life to its fullest, with joy, integrity, blessings, and gusto. The Sakura image even has been adopted as a way of life by groups as diverse as Buddhist monks and samurai. 

This Sunday at Grace Cathedral, we will celebrate the second Sunday of Eastertide with baptisms at the 11 am and 6 pm Eucharistic services. With the message of Christ’s resurrection and baptism, we have a message of rebirth and renewal of life in sync with the understanding of the cherry blossom. 

May our baptizands, their families, and the entire worshipping community, celebrate this wonderful, brief season of Easter. As they — and we — grow in life and faith, live with the joy and purpose we recount in the Baptismal Covenant, during the cycle of the year, until we rejoice at last in the eternal return to the God that created us with love.

And if you get a chance, visit San Francisco Japantown this weekend and enjoy this once-a-year celebration!

The Rev. Greg Kimura, Phd (Cantab.)

Vice Dean

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