There were no Easter egg huntings on the first Easter Sunday. There was no Easter bunny. There was no ham dinner, or a delightful home get-together.
There was silence. There was grief. There was emptiness. And then…there was hope interrupt through.
In my working life, I am currently dealing with some grief related to a family member who is no longer in my life. I have other close friends who are also dealing with significant heartaches right now. When the ritual schedule turned from Lent to Triduum to Easter, our suffer and heartbreak didn’t go away. Are any of us “failing at Easter”?
Suffering during Lent vs. Easter
I can remember years when I was pregnant and suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum during Lent. Bedridden, dehydrated, disgusting, hungry, lonely…in those times, this penitential season was easy. During Lent, I felt like I was not suffering alone. The entire Church was sustaining, more.
But then, inevitably, Easter Sunday would roll around. The residual of the Church discontinued fasting, terminated outward supports of lose, and I felt left with. I felt alone again.
This experience of mine is not unusual. Rarely, do our personal circumstances sync perfectly with the liturgical year. Rarely does its own experience of endure cease with Easter. Yet, anyone who suffers might hold a private hope that maybe the stand will miraculously fade with the first damages of the Alleluia. During my first pregnancy, unaware that what I was suffer was hyperemesis gravidarum( and that I would continue to be very sick for another six months ), the end of my first trimester coincided with the beginning of Easter. I was convinced that my “morning sickness” would miraculously elevate on Easter Sunday. It did not.
Was I miscarrying at Easter that year? Am I flunking at Easter this year, as I deal with grief and lose of another kind?
To answer this, we have to look back to the Scriptures. What was the first Easter like?
Easter in the Gospels
There is a tinge of affliction, jumble, and lingering sorrow in all the Gospel histories of Easter. You do not immediately shift from seeing your best friend or son violently, publicly killed to laughing and revelled when you realize he is alive again. The wonder, awe, and exuberance that the admirers of Jesus must have suffered when they saw him again would therefore be shaped and structured by the experience of suffering. Joy that is formed by suffering is deeper and truer than euphorium that has never stood at the foot of the cross.
When Mary Magdalene went to the tomb, she was distraught. She must have been crying in that intense way that blurs your seeing and starts it hard to walk or talk. She encountered an angel–an angel !– and it did not even register. Then, she encounters Jesus himself, and she is still lost in her weepings and heartbreak. It is not until he calls her refer that she examines up and realizes what has happened. She begins to cling to him, but then he leaves her a mission–to go and tell the others that he has risen.
This woman, who only minutes before was sobbing , now makes off loping and free.
On the road to Emmaus, two devotees encounter Jesus. They are busy processing. Men lament differently than ladies, trying to make sense of the misfortune that has happened. Surely, there must be a rational style to understand it all?( Whenever my spiritual director, a clergyman, “ve tried to” logically piece out something that I am emotionally running through, I teasingly tell him that his rationale was given in a extremely “man brain” way .) When Jesus ambles with them, they do not first recognise him. Mary was lost in the psychological knowledge of heartache. They are lost in the rumination theatre, trying to find an explanation for the unexplainable. In Mary’s case, Jesus violates through her rips with words and a mission. In situations of the followers on the way to Emmaus, he separates through their words and search for a goal with strong sentiment. After he leaves them, they turn to each other and query, “Were not our natures burning within us? ”
In their heartbreak, in their own propensities for are working with their grief and embarrassment, Jesus knew just how to break through their protections. He knew just how to strike their darkness with his light-footed.
But it is not really until Pentecost that we participate a shift in the Apostles. Until then, “theyre still” often afraid, sad, embarrassed. It is not until they are infused with the Holy spirit that they are able to run towards abiding, knowing that they are running into the arms of their beloved Jesus.
What does this mean for those of us who are grieving or sustaining this Easter?
Hope–Greater than Happiness
Surely, the Apostles and admirers of Jesus were happy that he was no longer dead. But still, things “re not” the same. Yes, he was alive. No, he was not alive in the same way. He was not sleeping beside them, ingesting with them, traveling along with them. There was still a vary, a shifting, and something to mourn( at least initially ).
The resurrection afforded a greater gift than merely happiness( which cannot really accept in this life, anyway ). The resurgence applied them the knack of hope.
Their suffering was not removed. They still felt a tint of remorse at the loss of their friend–even if that loss was because he was going to his Father to prepare a place for them. But now, permeating their affliction and sorrow was something more powerful than fleeting happiness–there was hope.
And so it is with those of us digesting this Easter. If we are not walking around with happy coursing through our veins, that is ok. The prosperity will come–if not in this life, then surely in the next. But, in the meantime, Easter utters us the endowment of hope. The cross is no longer a sign of outage. It has been transformed into a mansion of succes. Our suffering, our heartbreak, is no longer a sign that we are failing. Instead, the cross has changed it into a means of greater union with our Beloved, who have fallen victim on the cross. Those who have shared so closely in his suffering will surely share closely in his win. Because of the rebirth, those who weep can now have hope that they will one day laugh.
And that joy–the joy that comes after bearing the cross with love and accuracy, looking to Jesus and longing for greater union with him–is a glee that no one can ever take away. Easter is for those who are suffering, for those who are grieving–because it is only through the accomplishments of the cross that we can fully appreciate the reality of Easter.
image: Resurrection of Jesus- a detail of a historic renaissance fresco wall painting of Jesus condescending to hell and liberating the blameless gentlemen, photo by Thoom/ Shutterstock.com
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