March 30th, 2010
I try to spend as much time as possible during Holy Week in quiet reflection, thinking about Christ’s journey to the cross, his death, his burial. I remain in the darkest part of the Passion story before continuing on my journey through the remainder of the week, reminding myself that to Jesus’ friends and followers, there was no expectation of resurrection. They didn’t know that “Easter” morning was coming. At the crucifixion, all seemed lost. Their hopes and dreams of who they thought their Lord was and why he’d come died along with his buried body.
We can’t begin to understand what our Lord endured, not even the minutest portion of it. We watch films such as Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ, or read through a graphic Internet description of His physical agony (as I did yesterday) and we weep over what He did for us — for you, for me. How did it feel, on a human level, when his friends betrayed him, scattering like dry leaves in the wind? How did it feel when he realized that no one remained behind to stand up for him, to grieve for him, to wipe his tears?
Rejection. Humiliation. Betrayal. I think many of us, on a much smaller scale of course, know a portion of these emotions. Given our human condition and that of those who share our planet, we can also recall our own dark journeys through the shadowed valleys, can understand what it means when our hopes and dreams die in those valleys, sometimes through no fault of our own, other times as a result of our own wayward, headstrong ways.
No matter our heartaches, past or present, we need to remind ourselves that Easter is coming! We need to remind ourselves that the darkness will not remain forever, that even as we weep, certain that the darkness will never flee … Easter is coming! We need to remind ourselves that if we don’t experience the darkness, the burial, the mourning, neither can we fully know the wonder of the empty tomb, its heavy stone rolled away, and the glorious light of the One who died for us shining from within. We wouldn’t know that his light conquers darkness. Always.
Take a moment to reflect on your hopes and dreams, those that are healthy, those that are unhealthy, during this Holy Week. They may have to do with broken relationships, maybe a need for giving or receiving forgiveness, mercy and grace. Perhaps they have to do with forgiving yourself. They may have to do with unrealistic or failed expectations of those you love, or have to do with friends or family members you’ve failed, or who have failed you. Are you clinging to any of these (as I am prone to do), or can you bury them them at the foot of the cross, knowing that because death could not hold our Lord captive, neither can it hold us captive. He died that we may be free.
And that which we bury — like seeds that for all intents and purposes seem lifeless and worthless and well, dead – will be reborn in a different form. They will take root and, like wildflowers in the desert after harsh winter storms, spring forth with more beauty than we can imagine.
Back in the 1970s, when I was a new mom, feeling a bit overwhelmed in my new role, someone gave me an album with a song that touched my heart — Because He Lives performed by Doug Oldham . I thought of it just now while writing this blog, and searched for it on Youtube. I couldn’t find the Oldham version, but found one recorded by Bill Gaither, who with his wife Gloria, wrote the song nearly 40 years ago: Because He Lives – Israel Reunion.
And remember, Easter is coming!
Blessings of love, joy, and peace.