By now Easter consciousness is long gone for most people I know. Mine, too, unless I wrench it back into place. This morning’s stream of consciousness “what does Easter season mean?” sort of entry means to do just that.
Hope. It starts with hope. But hope for what? For eternal life? Sure, but my kids were both scared of eternity when they were small–the whole idea put a look of panic on their faces. Eternity, infinity, forever–big scary blobs of conceptual goo I both long for and dread. It’s like thinking the only door to paradise is the tar pit, to get sucked into a world no one’s been to and there have been no legitimate reports about. Eternal life is something we like to invoke but would just as soon avoid thinking specifically about. But the Ecclesiastes writer said God put eternity in our hearts. It’s a cavern that runs in my chest like…well, forever.
So hope. Hope for eternal life, sure, but what about limited life, finite life, life on this side? What about my writing life and my husband life and father life and fighting out from under depression life? What to hope for there? For success? Resurrection as a symbol for success? What is that? More money to buy the things that will allow me to make more money so that I can enjoy something that I might never have but if I work hard enough I might? If I fail, I can succeed? Obviously, I’d rather succeed than fail, but these categories must be flawed if they make up the bulk of my thinking.
Hope. What’s funny is that the moment I’m in now is exactly what I’d hoped for at some point in my life. The vague hopes of youth–a good and loving family, a rambling career in which I enjoy some success and independence, and more importantly, the ability to have a meaningful impact on a day to day basis on the very real lives of the people around me. I’d hoped to be a “really big deal” one day–national bestsellers and all that, and truth to tell, those hopes and dreams are hard to shake–but the point is that what was once hope is now real, though I could never have predicted the path or the exact shape of the reality.
Romans says hope comes after suffering that creates perseverance, perseverance that creates character, and character that then creates hope. And “hope does not disappoint us because God has poured his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who he has given to us.” The Holy Spirit of course, coming after the resurrection.
Resurrection. A symbol of the victory of love. The Holy Spirit of God releasing power back into the dead: dead moments, dead hearts, dead possibilities, dead relationships, dead inspiration, dead hope. Resurrection has meaning only in the face of death. Death is required, then comes re-borning. When a broken relationship is reconciled, when forgiveness is actually offered and received, when new ideas come to an old and tired mind–these are actual events, no longer symbols of anything, but real changes in real time.
The hard part is talking about resurrection as if it were some principle available to anybody anytime just by thinking it. And maybe it is. But if Jesus hadn’t died, if he hadn’t been resurrected in fact, then all of this would be so much myth, so much legendary metaphor cultures rummage through as they do civilization. All concept, no blood and bone. But Christ is the fulcrum, he is the point, he is the resurrected one. And however we deconstruct “No one comes to the Father but by me,” in those words a key lies. The Christ is the path to God, he is the keeper of all resurrection, the giver of all new life.
…he is risen…He is risen indeed…