I spent Easter with some dear friends this year. We did the whole usual Easter things like sharing a meal together, going to a chapel for ceremony, gave one another reminders that this life is all about love, and, of course, jousting. Wait… What?
The meal we shared together was with about 25 people. We knew six of them. The ceremony we attended was to see two amazing people get married. The reminders of love came through the voiced vows, tears and generosity of heart.
As far as the jousting, the wedding was held at the Renaissance festival so no one was harmed in the making of this article.
The wedding was kinda spur of the moment to learn it was happening. The invite came just a few days before the ceremony. Being invited to someone’s wedding is an incredible honor. I am of the mind that if someone invites you to a sacred moment like a wedding, it’s a great idea to say yes. So we did and our hearts were made full as a result.
The only pause in attending was that it was on Easter.
Easter is not one of my fave holidays. It hasn’t been for years. It generally reminds me of a more literal version of Christianity that I was shunned from. Easter was always a huge deal in the churches I was a part of from the age of 13 until the age of 21. I had a head and heart connection to Easter and the mood was vibrant and celebratory. When the welcome ended for me in these places, I locked down quite a bit. I was so angry, sad, bitter, and rather destroyed. The churches I knew, in my mind, owned God and if they said I was out, that was as good as from the mouth of God. Ministers have such power. When the rejection comes from their lips, oh how deep it cuts. My heart is still healing from this loss in a lot of ways. It just adds a difficulty to Easter.
Sit with this next part a bit if you can tolerate it. What was a moment for you that you did not see coming? What was a moment for you that felt out of your control? What was a moment for you when you found out what loss feels like?
If I had to describe what that was like for me I would use words
Lost sense of safety
I know I am not alone with that list. You and I could probably throw in tons of other words that reflect rejection and pain in one form or another. Suffering is part of the relational human condition. We don’t simply desire to be loved and to give love, it actually is a necessity. What that means is, I hurt when you hurt and you hurt when I hurt. It’s risky. It’s vulnerable. Love can feel burdening. It can also feel like the greatest gift ever.
Some realities: Life is to be celebrated and enjoyed. Life will one day end. Life will go on in new forms. The winter to spring change whispers the cycle of life and death to us while Easter Day often proclaims it.
One of the kids I was with today is getting ready to turn 9 in a few days. This kid is amazing for tons of reasons. His brain and capacity for understanding is surreal and he delights in questions. Today he said, “Poor Jesus. He keeps getting killed.” Oh how I loved that sentiment.
This soon-to-be nine-year-old has empathy, he has care, and he has compassion. There’s a real sweetness to him making sense of the world around him.
Here’s the thing, though: when we are young and still attempting to understand the world through shared story and tradition, we often don’t realize that the story serves as the vehicle for our own development and understanding. When it hurts, it’s so hard to shake. It is as though whatever the painful moment(s) were, they are still happening to us now. That means Jesus keeps on getting killed. Poor guy. When’s he going to catch a break?
That list we went through together a bit ago is like the literal “it keeps happening over and over” experience we have in brokenness. We relive it in our minds. It’s not that Jesus was killed, it’s that Jesus keeps getting killed. It’s not that your marriage is over, it’s that your marriage keeps on ending. It’s not that your loved one died, it’s that your loved one keeps dying over and over. How painful. How halting. How human.
Easter is about newness of life and I can definitely use some renewal and life affirming experiences these days. It’s not that Easter is impossible for me to enjoy and feel celebratory in. It is that my heart keeps wanting what was and it simply doesn’t exist anymore. I changed which means I can interact with Easter in a new way. And what a lovely thing that is…
My Easter Day was spent with friends who love me. My communion was at the wedding reception where I broke bread with people I love. The message of love didn’t come from a pulpit. It came from authenticity and vulnerability being offered to those willing to make room to witness it. I saw Jesus today in all sorts of faces and I heard Jesus today in all different tones of voices.
The turning to God where I stand vs the running to find God where I once did is something I have to relearn almost daily. When I remember to do this, though, I receive bountiful gifts in connection with the God of my understanding and the great big world all around me. And instead of Jesus getting killed all the time, I get to delight in a sense of resurrection and new life, if I do desire to turn to it.
And today I did.