We have arrived. “It is the first day”, the saying goes, “of the rest of our lives.” It is the first day of April, the month when we expect great flowerings – in our weather, our gardens and, hopefully, our life. We have survived the winter, some with great stress and destruction, and though it seems to be hanging on, we need to remember that the resistance of Mother Earth can be as strong as our own when it comes to change.
I just went back and read each of my posts for the past week. It was a different kind of Holy Week for me. I wait each year to dive into the meaningful rituals that put me in touch with the life and death of Jesus like no other moment in the year has the power to achieve. I have done that at home this year, having spent much of the winter in respiratory distress and not willing to give or bring home the germs so universally prevalent in the crowds of worshippers during this season. Oh yes, and by Palm Sunday, I had contracted a serious cold and sinus infection that sealed my decision to walk the way of the week at home. It was a surrender that was difficult but, in the end, meaningful.
Going to one’s room and closing the door is a well-known directive offered by Jesus in the gospel of Matthew (6:6) as a significant way to pray. He promised that the God to whom we “pray in secret” in that silence and aloneness will hear and reward the prayer. I can say that this has happened in flashes of insight during the week, coming to a deeper sense of what it must have been like for Jesus and how the events can influence my willingness to live more directly in the manner of Jesus. The most significant learning from the week, however, has been the recognition of the importance of community for spiritual support.
Each year on Holy Thursday, my local community celebrates a Seder meal, commemorating the Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples and in solidarity with the worldwide Jewish community celebrating the Passover. We eat the ritual foods and recount the history of the Hebrews in the same manner as our Jewish neighbors. We pray for the peace of Jerusalem and give thanks for the providence of God that has kept us safe in the past year.
As we concluded the Seder this year, and as I have reflected today on the entire week, I recognize the significance to my faith journey of the presence of companions. While I am able to meditate in private on the articles of faith and the events that inform our practice, it is the energy shared in the rituals as well as the experience of the rituals themselves by the gathered community that is at the heart of it all. I can sing alone and hear my voice proclaim a gospel text alone, but the light of the Easter candle burns brightly only as the light is passed from person to person so that it illuminates the whole room.
I will carry my portion of the light, hopefully as it has been made brighter by this insight, back into the community of the faithful in the coming days. Writing that, I remember a quote from long ago that seems apropos for my metaphor and a good image of possibility. Simple but profound, it declares: Easter people everywhere, shining Jesus love!
Happy, blessed Easter to all of us.