For some reason, Easter is always a difficult time for me. A deep sadness takes over.
It's a time when I remember my childhood and the Easter traditions we had quite poignantly, and I miss my Grandma the most. Even now, pictures of her delighting in the huge stuffed yellow duck with a polka dotted ribbon that I bought for her when she was in the hospital come to mind. I can still here here saying, "Ducky Wucky" and smiling while she traced the stuffed animals form with her hands.
It's a time when I miss being a kid the most, when the reality hits that the special dinner is entirely up to me and not grandmas and aunts and mom. And that special dinner will only be eaten by my tiny little family of Henry David, me, and our Grasshopper.
It's a time when I miss my varied church heritage and history the most. Here there are no sunrise services, no liturgy, no rich hymns, no choirs, no Lenten season lead-up to the day of Resurrection, no rhythm of liturgical seasons in the church, no special Good Friday services, no nothing. My mom isn't in the next room blasting Sandy Patti's music, both to my chagrin and delight. As I looked back on my old blog's archives (closed to public view for the past nearly four years), it's clear that Easter is ALWAYS difficult. And church is ALWAYS the reason. And sitting here now, I have to admit that this stubborn redhead still has not come to accept that this place is different. I'm still inwardly demanding that it change. But it won't. In this instance, unless I change (and I'm not willing or even sure how to go about doing that), I will always feel like a fish out of life-giving water.
And so, in my quest to find something - anything - to encourage my heart, I went looking for an article I wrote in 2008 for a study center located where I used to live and teach, and where my brother still lives and teaches. I read it and realized that even then it was possible to find something good, something beautiful, something true in the midst of the sadness. Four years later, it feels like the bitterness and disappointment have overgrown anything positive. It made me realize that it's an area that needs attention. I don't want to lose the ability to see beauty in the midst of deep sadness.
So as a reminder, here is what I wrote four years ago at the request of my brother. I'm so glad he asked me, for who knew that it would be so important to my own soul's health four years later?
I feel so unprepared.
It’s early this year.
As the months float by, I am increasingly separated from familiar liturgy and traditions held dear by friends and family in the Midwest. No one plays “The Easter Song” about hearing the bells ringing and singing about Jesus being alive. And my mom isn’t here to play Sandy Patti’s “Was It A Morning Like This?” on her ancient tape player, as we get ready for church. Out here, near the west coast of Canada, I feel so far from the rhythm of Christian seasons. Or do I? While my church home here is very different from the churches I called home in years past, the creation around me bids me to enter God’s own cathedral. And His creating does have a rhythm, and if I listen closely, it does sound out a call to remember the Resurrection.
After months of gray sky and rain, the sunshine is beginning to routinely pierce the smoky veil that covers our land. The mountains show forth brilliant greens, capped by lacy snow lines, giving way to sparkling white peaks. Down below, the tundra and trumpeter swans visit on their way back home. I love to watch them in their enduring strength and graceful beauty. The bald eagle flies with its young offspring, daring it to soar and swoop. The ducks spy out their nesting places, and one knows babies will soon appear.
Meanwhile, the crocuses and snowdrops are sprouting and blooming. The blueberry farmers are diligently readying their fields, while hundreds of crows and gulls flock to moist fields for dinner. The robins are back, and they sing out their songs while perched on the blackberry vines. Even the peanuts planted last year by the squirrels in our yard are trying to spring out of hiding in hopes that I’ll let them find life and rootedness in my garden.
What has seemed so dead and lifeless is showing itself alive. Could that be my reminder to think on Easter? Could it be God’s subtle call to ponder His most beautiful gift to us in the form of Christ crucified, dead, buried, and alive once and for all? Somehow, I think I can hear bells ringing after all.