It is a triumphant song. I have loved it since I was a child. I even composed my own, majestic arrangement of it during my teen yers. it’s the sort of song you could imagine being sung at a coronation.
It has many more meanings to me now than it had when I created my own version of it all those years ago.
He is risen:
My brother, Bobby. On Dad’s birthday in 1982, my brother (his son) was pinned to the earth, his hips crushed, by a falling stadium gate. When my mother entered the ER, she could hear the whispers: “It’s the mother.” Nobody thought Bobby would survive. Through years of excruciating pain, he was finally able to take his first steps. He now plays raquetball and does all sorts of athletics.
He is risen.
My dad. For a week, we alternated between internal bleeding and heart attacks. We were certain that we were in his final days, and all of us Blairs gathered to have last moments with him and prepare the funeral. The decisive day would be his eightieth birthday, September 25, 2010. Either he would be released from the hospital (if there were a miracle), or he would die.
This photo shows what happened. His two namesake descendants, his son Robert and his grandson Rob, escorted a very weak Robert W. Blair into the living room after the internal bleeding was stopped. He had been in bed for many days. He was risen–thanks to tender mercies and modern technology.
My brother, Dell. On April 2, 2014, Dell‘s heart flat-lined multiple times. Doctors told him afterwards that people DO NOT survive that kind of multiple flat-lining. My sister and I watched the ultrasound showing his heart beating–like chicken beaks kissing–as Dell kept asking “What happened?” We would tell him, and then he’d ask again. “Can somebody tell me what happened?”
You are risen.
My parents watched the light go out of me as my first marriage failed and destroyed my faith in myself, and made me question whether I was even loveable. (I’m sure my ex-husband experienced something similar.) As I met and began dating Bruce Young, my parents saw the light return.
She is risen.
Two of my children went on unspeakably difficult spiritual journeys and were wounded. The pain for me, their mother, seemed unbearable, and I found I could barely arise from bed. I could not stop crying. My husband blessed me with the assurance that “all these things will be sanctified in your memory, and you will see from an eternal perspective how they have served you.” Through medication, meditation, and revelation, I returned to joy–something my children had yearned to see in me again. I had been so sad for so long! One of the most profound revelations was that my own sadness could not ever compare with that of my children. One had fallen into addiction, and spoke about recovery. “The worst thing about recovery,” he said, “is that you start to FEEL again. And the best thing about recovery is that you start to FEEL again.”
He is risen to a holier state.
For me, “He or She is risen” is about much more than resurrection. It is about grace. I find “grace” almost impossible to define, but I know how it feels. I approach a sacred place–whether it is by my bed on my knees, in the temple, or in a forest–and begin to urge anything which is not peaceful to leave. In the temple, I will listen to music before participating in an endowment session. I go from soft music to the presented film, which starts with at least ten minutes of glorious photography– creation, gardens, animals, and fish. Whatever is stiff in me begins to relax. I start to open my mind to messages which are not about my own pain but which seek comfort, deep peace, and guidance. I listen, sometimes driving out distracting thoughts. As I commit myself to being a faithful disciple, I am opening my mind and heart to instruction on what my next steps should be. But it is much more than receiving knowledge. It is receiving light, receiving hope, as though my own spiritual memory were awakened to remembrance of all promises ever given and the understanding that nothing is impossible with God.
Revelations I have received tend not to be checklists but principles: “Give gratitude.” “Be joyful.” “Awake and arise.” “Remember.” “I will not leave you.”
Somehow, these messages reach into my soul and maybe even do something to my cells, reminding them of something they have forgotten about the human capacity to see beyond the moment. It is a cellular remembrance, just as it will be a cellular resurrection.
“Did not our hearts within us burn?”
“Wherefore didst thou doubt?”
“He is risen.”
Easter 2015. Hallelujah.