Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

I really like Easter, because it is about resurrection. It's about how things are not always what they seem.

It's about getting up on a pretty morning feeling really sad like you are waking up from a bad dream, and then you realize with a sinking heart that it was not a bad dream. Something terrible did just happen. The coming dawn that used to hold such promise now seems the betrayal of a promise broken. How can life be like this?

Returning to sleep is impossible. You crawl out of bed into the sharp coolness of the pre-dawn air, and put on some clothes. Not even sure of what you are doing, you go outside, more in a vain attempt to escape your sorrow than for any other reason.

You find yourself heading towards the tomb.

Realizing what you are doing, you think to yourself, "Of course. I can't believe he's really dead. I'm going to the tomb to reckon with the terrible reality that I wish has just been a bad dream. I'm going to the tomb to cry."

As you walk, you imagine putting your hands on the cold stone door. Even in imagining, the coldness pierces your soul.

As you round the last bend and at last glance towards the tomb, you are astonished to see the stone rolled aside. Amazement is quickly replaced by alarm. When you reach the tomb and peer into its emptiness, alarm becomes new puzzlement and then anger. What is this all about? Did someone take him, steal his body?!!!

You pick up the linen cloths in disbelief. Not knowing what to think, you start to cry. These past few days have been so awful, so confusing. How could all of this have happened?

Someone appears. Your distress merges with anger and you demand to know where the body is. But you soon realize that this is no ordinary person you are talking with. This stranger with a peculiar radiance knows you by name, and won't answer the questions you are trying to ask. Instead he reminds you of that bizarre resurrection prophecy that, yes, well, you heard but had not really understood. (There was a lot about your strange, now dead friend that you had not really understood. In fact, there is a quality about this stranger that reminds you very much of what it had been like to be in your friend's presence.)

A kind of other-worldly awe begins to seep into your soul, bringing a strange hope.

"You mean it's true? He is not really dead? He himself got up and left?" you ask.

"Yes and no. Yes, he got up and is not really dead. No he has not left you. He tried to tell you this would happen. Why are you so surprised?"

Bewildered and excited, you take off running to tell your friends, not thinking ahead enough to be able to predict their responses of disbelief.

Their doubt shakes you a little, but not a lot, because your experience at the tomb was so powerful: powerful in that sense of feeling more real than ordinary reality. "Come see!" you urge your friends, sure that they will be affected in the same way.

Their doubt does falter in the face of your own excitement. The sense of ultra-reality rubs off a little on them too. So they follow you back to the empty tomb and are amazed.

All of you stand together in silence for a moment in the empty tomb, mystified. Various rational explanations take turns playing through your minds, but none of them feels right. They all feel contrived. You realize that your limited mind is seeking a way to regain control of a Mystery that is not yours to control.

You realize that it is your disbelief that he could really be dead that is, after all, what you feel most sure about. How could someone so much more alive than anyone you have ever known be dead? Of course that is impossible! Of course he is not really dead.

Of course true love cannot be killed. Of course true goodness slips ever out of reach of even the very worst ragings that human anger can summon. The worst energy we humans can inflict upon the world are feeble flailings next to the power of God's love.

You all look up at each other at the same moment and know without saying anything that you have all reached the same realization.

Here you are, in the presence of a moment that will reverberate through centuries, through millennia, in ways you cannot imagine. Countless people into the future gather with you in that empty tomb and ponder this very same Mystery.

Happy Easter.

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