A Tree Ascended There


Emma Wright's Cherry Tree

A tree ascended there. O pure Transcendence!
~Rainer Maria Rilke

A 1948 Olympian at the London Olympics, a native Mississippian, avid tennis player, devoted Riverside member, Emma Reed Wright was released from her suffering and gave leave of this world April 4th, even as the beautiful cherry tree she planted in our front yard burst into bloom.

I pause to give thanks for her life and service because of all the things we might begin this week talking about, the death of this remarkable, gentle and dignified woman, as the season of Lent and sorrow gives way to Easter, seems so fitting for our church to do. We are those people redeemed by a Risen Savior, who proclaim victory over death.  How inspiring Emma has been to us and to so many and we thank God she receives now the laurel of victory from her Savior.

She adorned our community of faith as her tree adorns our church landscape.  Quiet.  Peaceful. Strong beauty, harmonious and as the poet, Rainer Maria Rilke penned in his opening poem of Songs to Orpheus, Pure Transcendence. These are some words that describe the tree she planted in honor of her sister, Frances, at her passing years ago.  They are words that are apt for Emma as well.

May the Lord comfort her dear sister, Sally and her loving niece, Annie.  May the Spirit of comfort and compassion have mercy on all of us who, in these days clutched between heaven and earth, look to our Redeemer.  You will recall from the Gospel of John that Magdalene confused the Risen Christ with a gardener.  If you can see, you may find Emma conversing with the Christ near those blooms on her cherry tree, in our front yard, on our little corner of Washington, DC.  You are the people of God. May the splendor of Christ’s love and resurrection awaken you ever to God’s love and presence.