the days of Easter…

Ok, I’m back – you can stop with the emails, etc. Though, I appreciate them, mwah! I took a self-imposed retreat from blogging during Lent. I needed to be more intentional about practicing Silence and blogging seems to make my mind race with ideas and to-dos, as if my ADD doesn’t already cause my mind to spin and twirl like my dog does when we get the leash out for her walkies. Surprisingly though, it wasn’t a tough thing to give up. It’s now already a week after Easter and I just realized – oh, I need to update that blog. I think I liked that slower pace of life.

But here are some of my ponderings. I experienced my first true Triduum this year. It wasn’t completely new – we had added gatherings to our observance of Holy week gradually over the years in our evangelical community but this was our first experience of this season within a deeply liturgical community. There’s something so much more powerfully real when the community remembers the Story together – the waving of palm branches and singing Hosannas together for Jesus on Palm Sunday sets us up to face the smallness of our hearts as they twist and yell “Crucify Him” a few short days later. We tossed out our 30 pieces of silver on Thursday and walked the Stations of the Cross on Friday. The sweet and eclectic liturgical community we have joined created a display of the Stations using pictures from post-earthquake Haiti.

No. Words.

Hearts heavy, we waited and reflected and wondered on Saturday only to see the unbelievable and impossible become Real as we moved through the vigil towards Sunday morning. As our little band sung out the names of those passed onto Heaven, the veil between this world and the next became that much thinner and the warmth and light of that side poured through onto us. He is risen, indeed. For the first time in a long time I didn’t want this season to end.

Tradition says that the light of the Paschal candle warms us now for the rest of the year. So we are now in a season of celebration even as we wait. Now comes the time to reflect and imagine what this new life together might look like and how we may grow more into it.

Sr. Joan Chittister writes:

Religion celebrates what the rest of the world forgets- the inherent goodness of life itself. Religion knows that life unadorned and raw is the ultimate high. Everything else is a pale shadow of the real thing.  All the excesses in the world- sex, alcohol, drugs, gambling, greed- are simply substitutes for the real thing. They are made for people who are yet to discover the glory of being human, the glory of God among us.

There is the secret-right out in the open. No, not mere moralizing about our struggles but the reality of encountering God right in the midst of us – in our humanness, our togetherness. Even in the lesser and base things that we use to try to grasp some semblance of filling or joy, there is something that points to that for which we long the most. Addictions and attachments don’t go away until we begin to unearth that deeper longing that they cannot truly touch. From the beginning God gave us the secret to His inner life of joy -that is, how to be fully human– we are to love one another. Jesus laid that out again the night of his very betrayal – love one another. If you love me then, love one another. Get it? This is how to do it, how to realize the Kingdom. Love one another. Love those empty, lonely, and sometimes, unattractive hearts. Love them. Then He proceeded to show us how to do so.

Sr. Chittister adds:

The resurrection to which Easter calls us — our own — requires that we prepare to find God where God is by opening ourselves to the world around us with a listening ear. This means that we must be prepared to be surprised by God in strange places, in ways we never thought we’d see and through the words of those we never thought we’d hear.

We must allow others — even those whom we have till now refused to consider — to open our hearts to things we do not want to hear. We must release the voice of God in everyone, everywhere. It means putting down the social phobias that protect us from one another. It requires that we clean out from our vocabulary our contempt for “liberals,” our frustration for “radicals” and our disdain for “conservatives.” It presumes that we will reach out to all others — to the gays and the immigrants and other races, to the strangers, the prisoners and the poor — in order to divine what visions to see with them, what cries to cry for them, what stones to move from the front of their graves.

That will, of course, involve listening to women for a change, seeing angels where strangers are, emptying tombs, contending with Pharisees and walking to Emmaus with strangers crying, “Hosanna” all the way.

Easter is not simply a day of celebration: It is, as well, a day of decision. What is really to be decided is whether or not we ourselves will rise from the deadening grip of this world’s burnt-out systems to the light-giving time of God’s coming again, this time in us.

Then the Easter Alleluia is true: God is surely “with us.”

There’s a lot of dying in becoming a Christian. This is tough stuff. But it’s not the religious drudgery we must admit that we hate. It’s just hard to imagine that the path to joy comes from movement towards those we love to hate (or in more “Christian” lingo, those with whom we disagree or have serious concerns about…whatever). But, we are always leaning towards joy. And God is either a tad nuts (it seems that way at times) or He knows the longings of our hearts so much more than we do ourselves. (I lean towards the latter.) The path to serious, unbounded, joyful resurrection life is right in front of us in a package we’d sometimes like to ignore. I confess, for me it’s Sarah Palin and her tribe. <sigh> But I honestly don’t believe we will have true joy, nor be ready for the realities of heaven if we believe we must leave out or cut off anyone. It would be like trying to cut off a part of the Trinity. It can’t be.

And the wise Sister adds:

In all it’s [Life’s] miniscule pieces magnified for us as we have never seen them before – one rose, one windstorm, one baby, one tomb- life over time becomes, without doubt, one great happy feast day.

All shall be well. May it be so. Party on, dudes!

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  • Ronda

    I love this post Ellen! And bravo for your venturing into deeper liturgical practices. I have been doing the same. We must compare notes. 🙂 As a perpetual outsider, for many reasons, I know the pain caused by those who easily judge and dismiss others. Those who practice such atrocities have the false gratification of doing what seems right (to them), and the adrenaline that goes along with that. You again, hit it on the head with “I honestly don’t believe we will have true joy, nor be ready for the realities of heaven if we believe we must leave out or cut off anyone. It would be like trying to cut off a part of the Trinity. It can’t be.”

  • carie good

    ellen, i’m glad you’re here, and that you are writing again 🙂 I find the relief of letting loose my grip on something i was so sure of is like waking up to sight for the very first time, and seeing yellow. daffodils. and still i persist in imagining that i am waking up, finally, for the last time. i smile, and guess there are many ways to inhabit infinity.
    loving you, carie g.

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