Monday, April 1, 2013

We are an Easter people

As the death of my father slowly and agonizingly approached, I really struggled internally with what my reaction would be. Would I find peace in the fact that I reconciled with this man and that he had centered God in his life or would the darker voices call on me, reminding me of a troubled past with my dad?

To be honest, there has been some of both and there has been some unexpected surprises too, both good and bad.

Such is the experience of being a Christian. The priest said it best in his homily yesterday- we are an Easter people.  Easter is about new life and new beginnings, some exciting, some terrifying. Living out life in new situations and ways, with new people and without old ones.

For all the good times and bad, my dad was a fixture in my life and yesterday was a day of firsts. It was the first Easter in my life when I could not at least call my dad on the phone and wish him a happy Easter. It was also the first March 31st when I could not wish him a happy anniversary. Both holes were there on the same day. Of course, neither had anything to do with me being sick to my stomach but how hard it was to enjoy this day nonetheless.

Strangely enough, though, I did enjoy it. That is the part that just doesn't make sense to those who are not Easter people. It is not as if we don't feel the pain- we do. It is not as if we are not aware of the absence- we are. Our joy is not contradiction, it is paradox, it is perspective. We have eyes to see through all the haze and ears to hear through all the noise. We know that, beyond all the vertigo and chaos, all the despair and pain and fear and grief, there sit three words, floating softly in the air like an empty bock rocking in the tide.....

 He is risen.

Without those three words, all is vanity, all is futility. With them, who can stand against us? What manner of assault can the devil hurl at us that will not, over time, disappear into nothingness? Without the Resurrection, our lives are hopeless and we do nothing but mark time until our damnation. Yet, with the Resurrection, it is the devil whose actions are futile at best, however malevolent and shocking they may be. We have only to embrace that truth.

He is risen.

An Easter people know that He has conquered this world. An Easter people know that not only is our glorious King in heaven, but He has raised up His servants to be there with Him. I believe that my dad is a spirit in heaven, walking along the streets of gold. The same is true of my son who died in 1998 and even the one who was miscarried years before him. Yes, I really do believe it.

We are an Easter people. We believe in new life.

Now, as I am closing in on my 50th birthday, and even my mother, past her 80th, must once again accept change and new life. We are not afraid.

He is risen. That is all we need to know.

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