Saturday, 4 April 2015

Easter: Hearing the voice under all silences

“Rolling Away the Stone” by Sarah Gilbert

In the tomb of the soul, we carry secret yearnings, pains, frustrations, loneliness, fears, regrets, worries.
In the tomb of the soul, we wrap ourselves in the security of darkness.
Sometimes this is a comfort, Sometimes it is an escape. Sometimes it prepares us for experience. Sometimes it insulates us from life.
Sometimes this tomb-life gives us time to feel the pain of the world and reach out to heal others.
Sometimes it numbs us and locks us up with our own concerns.
In this season where light and dark balance the day, we seek balance for ourselves.
Grateful for the darkness that has nourished us, we push away the stone and invite the light to awaken us to the possibilities within us and among us-possibilities for new life in ourselves and in our world.


Easter is seen through many lenses, some are very clear, precise, they are certain as to what Easter is about. Others amongst us though seem to see Easter through a kaleidoscope of ever changing colours and shapes. What comes to your heart and mind when you think of Easter?

Easter is a deeply universal festival in my eyes, I think there are so many layers to this mythos, that if we allow it to can touch all of us. In order to be touched by the magic of Easter you do not have to believe in the actual bodily resurrection of Jesus, you can believe in Easter without having to accept that this actually happened. In fact perhaps it loses some of its power if we focus purely on this aspect of the mythos. Maybe actually if we view Easter through this very clear lens we will miss much of what it can teach us. Maybe it is better to view Easter through a kaleidoscope or at least partially clouded glass, maybe we see more through the mystery than the seeming clarity.

Over he last few days I have been reflecting on the account of the resurrection in John's Gospel. The reason for this is the rather beautiful reflection titled “Easter Resurrection”, by Kathleen McTigue, that I recently came across. It has moved me greatly.

"Easter Resurection" by Kathleen McTigue

"The Easter story as told in the Gospel of John revolves around the experience of Mary who gets up before dawn on the day after the Jewish Sabbath and goes alone to visit the tomb. Her beloved teacher has died a horrible death, and it was only by the unexpected generosity of a wealthy man that Jesus was given even the small dignity of a real burial place instead of a pauper's grave. Because of the Sabbath, his body had not been cleaned according to tradition, and Mary set out early with her herbs in order to do this last grieving service. But when she got to the tomb she found that the stone blocking its entrance had already been rolled away, and his body was gone.

It isn't hard to imagine her despair and anger at being robbed of even this last farewell. she ran to some of Jesus' other followers with the news, and they came back with her to see for themselves. they probably stood there for a while arguing about what to do, but there was nothing to be done. Who would you complain to when you risked your life even admitting to the authorities that you had known him? Filled with that bitter realization, they finally left him again.

But Mary stayed, alone and weeping; maybe something defiant crept in with her grief that made her brave enough to stay. Then she caught a movement out of the corner of her eye, and turned to find someone standing there. "Why are you crying?" he asked. "Who are you looking for?" Thinking he must be the gardener, she said, as carefully as she could, "sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you've put him and I'll take care of it. I won't tell anyone. I'll just take his body and clean him up so he can rest in peace," Then Jesus - because of course it was Jesus standing there, and she didn't recognise him - Jesus just called out her name: "Mary." And then she knew, and she said back to him, "Rabbi."

For those of us who believe that Jesus was a human like us, the idea of his literal resurrection from death is a leap of faith we can't quite make. We know that when our bodies die, they die. We belong to the earth, and it is comforting and right to know that we dissolve again into the sweetness. But we can believe in Mary's resurrection. When Mary heard her name called, suddenly her eyes were opened to a new reality. She was called out from the blindness of her grief and despair, and from within herself she found a new way to see and to understand what had happened to her.

I take that Easter story as truth. It points to the moments in every life when something within us is called out, called forth, called to a deeper understanding of our world. Easter raises the question: In the bright opening of the earth, in the turning season when new life is pouring out all around us, what will we bring forth from within ourselves? It's a time that calls us to open our eyes in a new way, to see not just what we expect to see but perhaps some bright and mysterious truth we could not fathom before, something completely new and unexpected.

We are a troubled tribe, we human beings. The unfolding story of our time on earth is clouded with pain and cruelty, with missed opportunities, unthinkable heedlessness, and indifference. It is also marked by the bright notes of decency, kindness, freedom and courage. Easter proclaims that we each have a part to play in how the story unfolds, if we are willing to wake up. We listen for what is calling to us, and like Mary, when we hear our name we answer, rising anew to meet the life that will not stop calling our names."

Kathleen Mctigues's reflection truly touched the soul of me. Mary Magdalene was in utter despair, having lost her teacher, who she couldn’t even give a proper burial to. Then she once again heard the voice of hope, born from that same place of total hopelessness. As she did she was able to see life through new eyes, new vision came and she was able to turn away from despair to hope.

This is Easter for me a story of hope for all of us that whatever happens in our lives if we keep on turning in faith new vision will come. Easter time, in the midst of spring, truly is the turning season, it is the day of new beginnings. Easter teaches that we can begin again in love each and every day. This begins by hearing or even seeing new hope and turning from whatever despair may keep us trapped in our empty tomb and turn us toward that voice or light.

So I ask you once again what comes to your heart and mind when you think of Easter?

I have also been inspired by the following Easter reflection by Robert Walsh

“Early Easter” by Robert Walsh

love is the voice under all silences,
the hope which has no opposite in fear

"Easter arrives in New England while spring is still mostly a promise. If there is anything we can trust, surely we can trust the Earth, in partnership with the sun, to put new leaves on the trees, to coax blossoms from the forsythia. Meanwhile, I watch through the window of a gray chilly day for the warming and the brightening to come.

Easter invites us to trust in something more amazing even than the coming of spring. Can we trust this: that love is more durable than life? Can we believe that love casts out fear? Can we have faith that love is the voice under all silences?

I trust, and I mistrust. From the quiet centre of myself, I hear a trusting of love, a faith that the story about love is true. On the noisy surface of my life, I hedge my bets. I collect things, join organisations, and take out insurance, hoping to be saved.

That’s why I need Easter. That’s why we keep this celebration. It is because we need to hear the old story about love. We need to be reminded about the voice under all silences."

...the voice under all silences...Again this truly touched that place right in the marrow of the soul of me...

Can we hear that voice under all silences, the one that calls out our name? Do we believe in the voice, do we believe that it can know our name? Do we believe that it is the voice of Hope that can lead us out of the dark empty tomb of Despair to the light of new beginnings?"


I have an experience of a power that is greater than all and yet present in each of us, in everything. That said I do not believe that it controls all that happens in life. I can turn to it for strength and direction and when I do so my prayers are answered and I can live in the way of love and courage. I can become “The Light of the World”, that Jesus spoke of “On the Sermon on the Mount”. I believe that we all can if we listen out for that voice and keep on turning from the tomb of despair to the light of hope.

Now if we believe that we are “the light of the world” then maybe the resurrection occurs within our very lives. That the love that Walsh is speaking of can come alive in us, can incarnate in our very being if we listen for it, if we engage with it intimately.

Easter is so much more than the coming of spring as Walsh states. There is more here than just the re-birth of spring plants and flowers. There are far deeper truths than just seeing the renewal of plant life all around us. I also think that there is far more going on than the story of physical resurrection too.

The resurrection for me is not really about the physical body coming back alive. What it is really about is the spirit within each and every one of us coming alive. Sarah York claims that Easter mythos is about the resurrection of many souls not from death but from deadness. She writes:

“What do I mean by deadness? I mean the things inside that kept the disciples away from Jesus’ funeral – fear, cowardice, lack of conviction and purpose. And I mean those same things in our own lives that prevent us from feeling alive – things like fear, cowardice, and the lack of conviction and purpose. And things like the loneliness, grief and boredom that numb us to life.”

This is what Easter means to me. It is far more than the resurrection of a body, which just seems impossible. It is also far more than the renewal of nature of spring after winter and of plants rising from the once frozen ground. When I think of Easter what I experience is that sense of spirit truly coming to life, just as it did for Mary Magdalene when she heard her name being called in the tomb. It’s about love coming alive in all our bodies and of that light coming alive and us sharing it with a world that at times seems completely starved of love. It’s about the voice of hope coming alive once again in the tomb of despair and being led out into life renewed. It’s about each and every one of us truly becoming “the light of the world”.

That’s what Easter means to me, but what does it mean to you…why don’t you think about that…I’ll leave you with that one…

I ask you once again what comes to your heart and mind when you think of Easter?

I am going to end this chip of a blogspot with a meditation by Mark Belletini, entitled “Exultet for Easter Morning”

I could say they are beautiful
those stars hemming the blue veil of morning
I could say it gives me pleasure,
that bronze and perfect Passover moon,
or I could say they make me glad,
those laughing daffodils along the lane.

Or, I could just as well say they are lit from within,
Divine, overflowing with what some long to call
Revelation, or even the growing vision of God.
But today, on Easter, I don’t care which words I use to express my
I just am glad to be alive, blest with such marvels.

I could say that the earth hanging in space
is an accident in the universe that just happened,
or I could say it’s one more miracle,
in a cosmos full of miracles,
one overflowing with divinity.

But today, on Easter,
For all of my education and life experience,
I cannot tell which word is which.
Accident. Miracle.
They both seem to see each other’s face
in the mirror of my heart.
And so I rise in gladness again,
And sing the marvel that everything is!

When some argue for heaven,
And others argue for earth,
For the life of me I cannot comprehend the
seriousness of the debate.

After all, the heaven I see daily overhead
Never argues with me.
It just tumbles clouds through my eyes and yours
And paints the horizons pink and orange
Come evening or come morning.

And the earth I walk on never argues with me either.
It mostly just explodes with buds and petals
Like some out-of-control fountain.
Heaven and earth remain silent even when people malign
the ancient exclamation “O God!”
by fusing with violence and entitlement.

But now, on this Easter Day, everything grows
beyond words, beyond earth and heaven, into
a necessary vision of harmony and peace for all
humankind who rise into life that is alive.


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