An old song by Peter Allen and Carol Bayer Sager: Don’t throw the past away/ You might need it some day./ Dreams can come true again/ When everything old is new again! There is an Easter theme here for me. Paul tells the Christians in Corinth that in the Risen Christ, our point of view is changed; we don’t see anyone from a strictly human point of view any longer. The transforming work of the Spirit of the Risen Christ changes our perspective. I am musing on the way that the slow “eastering” is going how the transformed perspective is happening in me.
My Lenten/Easter season has been full of re-connections with people from different eras of my life. Maybe in the same the ways that swallows used to return to Southern California, those whom I have loved over the years need to return here to reminisce, recall and re-establish parts of their own heritage. And so almost as if in parade, I have been blessed to welcome them–for a meal, a conversation, a retrospective take on what was then and what is now. I have been taken back to roles I have enacted in what feels like previous lives: a mother of little ones, a brand new bride, a neophyte pastor, a stranger to the world of my husband’s family, an emerging Christian feminist. In almost every encounter we had a question, explicit or implicit: how did we get from There to Here? I was aware in each exchange that I am the same individual that has inhabited all those roles, yet over time and encounter with resurrection eyes, I see other people and myself with more clarity, more, humility, more grace. In my newer vision there is less cloudiness, having seen people as the man whom Jesus healed did, as “trees walking,” now seeing with more accuracy and more open-heartedness, more freedom.
I wonder if this was what Mary Magdalene experienced in her encounter with Jesus in the garden after the resurrection. Her eyes were red and puffy with weeping, her vision dim with hopelessness. She didn’t recognize Jesus as he stood there, even as he spoke. Yet, when he called her by name, he came into focus, and so did she. The relationship has to be re-imagined. She was to let go of Jesus the way she had known him, and she had a new vocation–to go and to tell others about what was new in him and for them. She recognized Jesus, yet she was transformed into seeing him and following him in a new way. So I ask myself if this is what this journey with the Holy One has been and is about, not erasing past persons and roles, but gradually being able to perceive them from a Spirit point of view–with expansiveness, with wonder, with compassion and humility. These friends from my past are in one way just who they always were, sometimes even more so. And I too am who I always was, only more elastic, less judgmental, and still being transformed.
My prayer then must be in this Eastertide that as I let Christ “easter in me,” I also cherish what is old in loved ones that was life giving and heart warming; that I let go of attitudes and practices that judge, limit and exclude; and that I see and celebrate what is new and blossoming in the Spirit in every one that I meet!
Christ is Risen Indeed!