This reflection is prompted by John 20:1-9, the reading for Easter Sunday.
I love Easter mornings. I find it a very consoling time after the frenzy of retreat-giving during Holy Week every year. I’ve been giving a Lenten retreat every year for the past twelve years–both face-to-face and online–because, among other reasons, I need it, and it’s good for my soul.
This morning I caught the moon lingering beyond sunrise, and it was a marvel to see how brightly it shone amidst the daylight.
The lingering moon captures what for me is this year’s Easter spirit. Without fully realizing it, I’ve been in some kind of funk the past weeks. I’ve been running around doing stuff, with all sorts of deadlines to catch, but I’ve also been running on empty. Because of all the things that seem to be going wrong in the world, I’ve allowed some kind of skepticism to fester inside me and to gnaw at me. I didn’t immediately detect it because it was subtle: I wasn’t feeling particularly angry, sad, or afraid–just indifferent. Like I could care less.
It wasn’t until I started gathering my thoughts and preparing (read: cramming) for my Holy Week retreat that I realized what had been going on: I was losing hope. Losing hope in the world, losing hope in the human race in general, and–I am both embarrassed and horrified to admit as I recognize it now–losing hope even in God! Again there was no strong feeling of anger, sadness, or fear; just a resigned suspicion that maybe things will simply be allowed to go more wrong.
The great thing about giving retreats, however, is that you need to pray harder than usual and get in touch with your deeper self. My experience has been that I usually end up preaching to myself. I am drawn to speaking about the very ideas that I myself need to hear. And so for the third day of this year’s retreat, without planning on it, I found myself giving voice to what I needed most to hear from the Lord: Don’t give up just yet. Exhume those half-buried hopes and dreams, and let the Lord resurrect them!
When I asked “How? How am I supposed to do that?” the simple answer came to me: “Just keep getting up and showing up!” God knows–well, He knew!–I so needed to hear that, and based on some retreatants’ feedback, so did they.
One of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver wrote: “Let me keep company always with those who say, ‘Look!’ and laugh in astonishment–and bow their heads.”
May I always choose to experience this astonishment and reverence, come hell or high water, and share it with others.
So this Easter morning, I have decided to keep on hoping–even if it means often hoping against hope. The Lord is risen–and every single day He invites me to rise with Him.
Let me end by sharing with you the song which kept playing in my head last night and which kept me from falling asleep (!). The source of the LSS is the song I used for the Easter Sunday module of this year’s retreat, and it’s an anthem that really does capture this year’s Easter spirit for me. I hope it also inspires you to keep hoping and rising with the Lord.
“Rise Up” performed by Andra Day