Easter and Thanksgiving are the times we’ve visited my side of the family. For as much as I hope these times will be worthwhile and joyous…more often they prove to be interactions marred by family of origin baggage and tensions forged in the kiln of pain and chaos.
I yearn to create new traditions in my nuclear family, but obligations and traditions with extended family crowd out those preferences.
I wonder now, as I recover from too much driving, what do we do when all the well-suited symbolism of new life and rebirth fail. When they don’t pan out in real life. When what you wish for, like a clean start, or even some version of new found tranquility proves unavailable.
The joy of Easter is there in the background, in a larger –what-God-is-up-to–sense, but interpersonally you just wish you could be somewhere else. That has to be more common than the Easter greeting cards let on.
My husband and I watched The Passion of the Christ on Good Friday, a day before we left on our Eater trip, and I was struck by something. The pain. So. much. pain.
This holiday is marked with the pain of God coming into our experience and absorbing all the agony. We tend to jump to the end. The happy ending of the joy of his resurrection. That’s the spot we focus on. O’ the joy!
For Christ’s followers it was actually more of a chaotic time rife with sorrow, dashed hopes, bewilderment, unbelief, and then surprise, okay, shock. Joy? Yes that too. But many other things.
First, he kept popping up in locked rooms, probably necessitating the “Peace to you” language, because he was freaking them out so much. He gave them hope enough to spread the Good News, but much was left undone. In fact, the hardest times were ahead. And, Jesus didn’t stay long.
Real life is complicated.
There was infighting, arrests, beatings, Steven is the first martyr, wild Saul starts imprisoning and killing Jesus’ friends–then he reverses course. Death where is your sting, says St. Paul? Well, guess what? The pain still smarts like the dickens.
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I must say I have some envy for those who experience serenity and all the related majesty and renewal of Eastertide. Sometimes those symbols fail me. This was one of those times. Perhaps they do not in any long term or big picture way, but in the nitty gritty ways and means that life plays out…yes. And that makes it difficult. So much of life just doesn’t work right. So much is still broken, empty tomb or not.
You probably thought you were going to read a happy ending. Maybe I would turn my frown upside down. But, right now, I can’t find the right ending to write about. Maybe the symbolism hasn’t failed me, maybe I have failed it. I suppose like many stories, this one isn’t over yet either. But, the dot-dot-dots (…) are each so weighty and confounding.