I have been more than ready for Easter to blossom this year. The Lenten days were full of challenge and struggle, not so much for me, as for many people I love, to whom I am committed. My list of daily prayers seemed to lengthen exponentially every day. So I take heart from those around Jesus who had grieved deeply in his last days and death, and who are now slow to comprehend the changed reality that Death is not the last word; there are no final defeats, Christ is Risen! They need to live past the shock and awe into the new and organic truth that the Resurrection re-orients their thinking and their acting. They struggle, and so do I.
Two companions on the Emmaus road struggle with what the events of the last days and years tell them, even when Jesus appears to them in a form they don’t recognize. Thomas can’t get over the cognitive dissonance of a cruel death and a risen Christ. The band of trembling faithful are locked behind closed doors because the fear remained in their bones and spirit. And not knowing what else to do, they go back to what is familiar–fishing.
What remains familiar is the unresolved questions in real time, real life. We are waiting for a biopsy report, we are staring a new treatment, we are recovering from an unexpected virus, we are looking for a job, we are still trying to imagine how a rift between us can be healed. The clergy feel brain-dead and devoid of soul. And the trumpets and Hallelujah Chorus have not taken those realities away from us. So how do we take the turn of trust and imagination into the 50 days of Eastertide? I admit I am glad it is so long, even longer than Lent. I am given time and space to re-imagine my life in this new Light.
In hope and trust I turn my attention away from my Lenten discipline of clearing out spaces (although I will still be in that process daily!), and ask what it all means when I am doing what I need to do each day. If everything is new, how do I see and greet the person who makes my hackle rise in each and every conversation? If there are no final defeats, how do I hold hope for the one who is being sucked in to the vortex of despair? Are there those for whom I should show up in the name of the Risen Christ just to be there as they wait, struggle and mourn?
The Japanse poet Issa come to me this morning with these words:
Live in simple faith…
Just as this
flowers, fades, and falls.
The blossoms have blossomed in my backyard this year, but I trust that the blossoms will come again. Easter tells me that “Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ is coming again!” With that lens I am empowered to be peace and good news for myself, for those I love and for those in my sphere of loving….no matter how slowly I comprehend and start.