These words from Gerard Manley Hopkins in his poem, “The Wreck of the Deutschland,” have been hovering in and around my spirit in this past week. Holy Week is always about what seems to be the painfully slow journey of Jesus throughout Jerusalem to the cross. It is a process, a horrific unfolding of the sorrow and pain of pathway to the crucifixion and all its collateral pain–betrayal, denial, abuse–physical, emotional and spiritual. And then, we read, it is finished. It has taken a long time. Hopkins prompts me to reflect that the in-breaking of Easter is also a process that takes time.
Certainly those first witnesses to the resurrection needed time to comprehend it–to take it in. Mary Magdalene did not recognize the Risen Christ at first, and when she did, it took time for her to understand that all the rules had changed, that she was part of a new reality in God’s presence in the world. Thomas just didn’t believe it. The disciples on the way to Emmaus struggles to understand the conflicting reports of the disposition of Jesus’ body. It seems that most of the “faithful” were afraid. Easter did not magically change the grief of the previous week into celebrating.
I am trusting that there will be am “eastering” process in me in these next weeks of Eastertide between Sunday and Pentecost on June 8, that turning my attention to look for the places where I can see the presence of Christ, I too will increase my capacity to let the Light of Easter into my world-view. that my dimness will be illuminated incrementally by the dayspring, that I will trust that the Light has not been put out, but keeps rising with healing in its wings.
The need for Easter and its new hope, new life and good news seems so imperative. With northern Africa, Syria, Afghanistan still far from settled, Russia and Ukraine have spilled over into ugly and painful conflict. The bitterness and rancor of national election 2016 are ramping up again. Denominations that reunited in the 1980s are fracturing again in the 2100s. A group of us gathered on Monday of Holy Week to reflect and pray with the pain in our own lives and the pain of the world. Each one of there had a story to tell about ourselves or someone close to us–of death, of severe illness, of tragic estrangement, of loss of heart and will. We pondered the extremes of response available to us; on the one hand, denial and desertion, on the other being swept away on the river of our own tears of hopelessness and loss. Neither position was where we understood that Christ had called us to be. We were to be present to the pain to which we we were called to be witness, yes. However, we were to see it in the Light of the Easter that would come, has come, will come. We knew that we need each other to nurture each other in that trust.
My Lenten practices proved to prepare the ground for the emerging process of eastering before me. Some of my practices proved invaluable to getting to this Triduum, these days of Mystery. I want to keep practicing them in Eastertide. With others I found it harder to be faithful–I uncovered resistances, forgetfulness, sloth getting in my way. And so I want to continue to open my heart to the “crimson-cresseted east” by continuing those practices as I allow the process of Christ eastering in me to give me hope, energy and vision for the work and loving to which I am called.
Today, this Good Friday is early to be making this proclamation, but I proclaim it anyway–Christ is risen; he is risen indeed!