A video reflection about feeling joy and sorrow in this season of Easter, especially this year when sorrow may seem to take the lead. Here are links to the books and the quote I mention:
Make Me An Instrument of Your Peace
The Closeness of God
How often do many of use the old adage “it is always darkest before the dawn” without thinking about it? Very often, that is the answer. When I was on Camino de Santiago in September and October 2016, I learned the truth of the saying. While walking on the portion of the Camino known as “the meseta,” the flat northern plains in Spain, we would leave our albergues in the dark. Walking in darkness, it would actually get a bit colder and a bit darker as sunrise approached. At that time the sun was not coming up until after 8am, so it was not even that early. But it was that cold and that dark.
Then each day would offer us a gift if we turned around, we would see the faintest hint of light on the horizon behind us. Dawn would soon break, dispelling the darkness and the cold. Soon, the sun would blaze overhead and the temperatures would rise. We would walk on, donning hats and sunglasses, adding sunscreen to arms newly bared as we peeled away layers of clothing.
Every day felt new when this moment happened, as if we had not witnessed it the day before. Every day was joy.
Today as I consider that it is Easter, but that it feels like anything but, I am reminded to focus on the cold and dark for a moment before I recognize what it happening… Each day we rise again and again and again.
This Easter may be the coldest and darkest pre-dawn moment that many of us will ever know, but hold this thought in your mind, grasp it as tightly as you do when you cling to Christ… Dawn will break, the darkness will be eradicated and flooded with light, the cold will turn to warmth.
Rejoice in the Alleluia that signifies the Risen Christ! No matter how cold and dark it feels, and often we must remain in that place for longer than we wish, may we all know the hope of belief in the Living God.
May your Easter be blessed in these unusual times. Darkness is dispelled, Jesus has destroyed death forever! New life springs forth! Easter dawns and Christ is risen! Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
Christos Anesti! Χριστός Ανέστη!
Christ is risen!
Alithos Anesti Aληθώς ανέστη!
Truly, he is risen!
The paragraph below is from author Madeleine L’Engle, now of blessed memory. It reminds me that we conclude our Lenten journey and rise with Christ literally awash in the power of baptism and new life. We cannot be selfish with this, we cannot hoard this, nor feel special or privileged. Christ came for all and that compels a generosity born of Easter joy that hopes for all to rise in new life.
Today as we bask in the glow of resounding Alleluias may we also pray for those who have yet to make the journey, as well as those who begin it time and again but fall short. That last bit is important to sit with – it is all of us.
Our Easter joy is not a prize, Christ’s rising is not reserved for certain people, but available to one and all who turn to him, no matter how long it takes to get there. May we all find even the most minuscule shards of shattered hope that brings with it the possibility of new life for everyone.
On Easter more than any other day, may we rejoice in the gladness of God’s power and glory, and may we receive it with gratitude, may we share it with generosity, may we live it with joy.
Because Jesus took into himself on the cross every evil and every sin and every brokenness to come upon this planet, there is the fragile but living hope that one day even Satan may once again join the children of God when they gather round their Maker, and that he will beg to be allowed once again to carry the light. For, as Saint Paul wrote to the people of Philippi:
Every knee shall bow in heaven
And on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord
to the glory of the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)
Hot, huffing, and puffing, I was four days into my camino. Strangely enough, my knees were not bothering me nearly as much as I imagined they would, nor were my legs too sore, but I was dogged by blisters. And by the overstimulated exhaustion that can come about in the pursuit of a dream. Four days in, I was still a Camino Santiago neophyte without a clue.
Making it to the top of Alto del Perdon was no joke. It was not as steep as it was to get from St. Jean Pied de Port to Orisson, nor was as long and hard as it was to keep going uphill from there on the way to Roncesvalles. It was however hot! And again, those blisters. Ouchie. Anyway, making it to the top of Alto del Perdon was also a glorious moment – what a famous spot for those who know the Way of St. James! It is the place where the “the path of the wind meets the path of the stars.” In a word – magical.
Like most matters of faith, the high is often followed by a challenge. So consumed was I with getting up Alto del Perdon, I gave little thought to getting down. An essential camino lesson for me was this – going down is often far worse than going up. As we began our descent, my weariness gave way to an overwhelming anxiety with each footfall on the steep and rocky path. In fact, I felt certain that I might not be able to get down. I simply believed that I could not do it. And you know where that kind of thinking gets you.
In today’s Gospel from John, Nicodemus pays a visit to Jesus. At night. I love this imagery, poor old Nicodemus sneaking into see Jesus under the cover of darkness. It is a real struggle for Nicodemus to understand what it means to be “born again” and to be “born of the Spirit.” Here he is wrestling, like anyone who is inclined to being too literal, wondering how a “man once grown old” gets back into the womb to be born again. As usual, Jesus is trying to tell him. Jesus speaks to us in ways that leave us no place to go but deep into our hearts. Our literal and practical heads won’t allow us to understand, although our literal, practical – you know, our “realistic” heads – the ones that we value in the material world. Overvalue, it would seem. Nicodemus is basically saying, “Wait – what?” Continue reading
(Yes, I know – hiatus. Back briefly on this day.)
Many years ago, when I was an toiling away in corporate America, I used to call myself an E.L.F. – or executroid life form. It was a joke meant to poke fun at a world around me. It seemed that we were less and less focused on people, and more focused on getting sales and good numbers, whatever that meant. Today as I reflected on this, I thought of a business book that was popular many years ago, “Getting to Yes, Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In” by Continue reading
It happened about midday on Monday, as I sat at my desk. It happens every year, in every way, but this year it hit me hard; perhaps I was snappish in my reply, I don’t know. This “it” is something we’ve likely all said or thought over the years. The gentleman sitting before me, a very “churched” person said, “I bet you’re glad that Easter is OVER!”
The snappish bit? When I looked up and (was I roaring like a lion?) Continue reading
On Good Friday we hear Jesus say:
“It is finished.”
And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.
Today what was before us is gone, and now we begin anew.
When I was growing up in the 60’s, I went to a more old fashioned church, a mission parish, very tiny, and traditional. The changes from Vatican II trickled in, but I have very vivid memories of Latin masses, incense, the works. Yet it was not a strict and scolding message, which many others may have heard. Yet, Continue reading
Add to that a little surgery had me resting more than writing. Plus the weather has finally improved tremendously, and I have been outside enjoying it all, going on long walks with our dog Ellie. Spring has sprung at last!
Which gets me to to this – walking around the woods, or even just my own yard during spring reveals the glory of God in nature. This is not news, but for some reason this year I seem to be more aware of life in the conditions around me in the natural world. Winter hit me hard this year, in a way that it typically does not; its glacial grip around my soul was beyond numbing.
As recently as a month ago, we still had some remaining plowed snow that was covered with dirt. Blocks of old snow/ice – solid and nearly unbreakable, and not in a good way. That glacial grip remained. Like bulbs I planted last autumn, those dry hard little things going down dark and deep, my own unreconciled feelings, were buried in our dry and sandy soil that had frozen over, and was covered by this dark mess.
Yet, Spring arrived in full, and that gritty pack ice near the curb has slowly melted and washed away. Suddenly green things were emerging – grass, shoots, and leaves. (Sorry – as a writer and a poor copy editor of my own work, I could not resist that one!) The branches of trees which not so long ago appeared dessicated and devoid of any new growth, were sprouting little green tips. And those dang bulbs – up came the green, followed by crocus, then daffodils, and now tulips.
No matter how dead something appears, God stirs up the Spirit in the form of new or renewed life. Even in the depth of my winter ennui in those waning days of Lent, the first buds on the magnolia tree outside of my office window caught my attention. On March 24, I decided that I would take a picture every day, or almost every day, and post it on Instagram with the hashtag #magnoliawatch. God uses every means possible to get into our hearts. Why wouldn’t God use using social media and hashtags to get our attention?
Those magnolia buds became my beloved quotidian companions. What might I note from one day to the next? Was the cold too much, would the tree prevail? When would the blooms finally spring forth? Like a bird tending a nest, I was attuned to the slightest details and just as protective!
At this point the tree has not simply bloomed, petals are already falling to the ground. Make no mistake, the tree is spectacular and I’m in love with all those big pink and white puffballs exploding in color at the end of each branch and twig. However, I see the fallen ones, and while I mourn, I also feel joy. The tree flowers intensely now, but will offer me green shade all summer long. There will be no grieving for the petals for me this year, just an embrace of what follows.
Every walk I take this Spring reveals new glories and joy, signs and wonders made plain in the flora and fauna of this ecosystem. God appears to have illustrated our Easter season readings and prayers in the growth all around me, and within me. Naturally!
Blessings of Spring to you, blessings of this continued Eastertide!
(If you read this and if you are in the general vicinity, I invite you to St. Edward the Confessor in Clifton Park tonight. We will be having Evening Prayer at 7pm, with music, and tonight I will be offering a brief reflection. Come and join us on the first Tuesday of every month – all are welcome.)
These Greek words sum up what today is all about. In fact they sum up everything about our Catholic Christian – or any Christian – faith. Christ is Risen! Truly He Has Risen!
May every blessing and hope of the resurrection be yours! Christos Anesti! Alithos Anesti!