Monday 1 April 2024

May We Rise from Our Sleep and Not Die an Unlived Life: An Easter Reflection

“A poem on Easter” by Wendell Berry

The little stream sings
in the crease of the hill.
It is the water of life. It knows
nothing of death, nothing.
And this is the morning
of Christ’s resurrection.
The tomb is empty. There is
no death. Death is our illusion,
our wish to belong only
to ourselves, which is our freedom
to kill one another.
From this sleep may we too
rise, as out of the dark grave.

from Wendell Berry’s Given: Poems

Today is Easter, let us rejoice and be glad; let us celebrate the joy that is this day whatever it may mean to us. For no matter the conditions of our lives, the state of our hearts. The lives of those dear to us and the struggles in this our shared world, the spirit of Easter can be born again and anew, in our hearts and lives. Life continues. Spring is here, the new life cannot be denied. Easter is here, let us rejoice and sing Hallelujah!!!

And what is Easter? Well it is different, perhaps unique for each and every one of us. What makes you want to rise up and sing Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah?

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

In my eyes it is a deeply universal festival, I see layers to this mythos, that if we allow it to can touch all of us. In order to be touched by the heart 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. 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.

What is clear to me is that Easter is about the Power of Love that grew from that empty tomb. Whatever we may think about bodily resurrection, something definitely lived on beyond the physical death of Jesus. While his body may no longer have remained in the empty tomb, some beautiful aspect of his life certainly remained.

Easter for me is about being born to this life. Not being saved for the next life, or another life, but this life. Its about rejoicing in this gift we are given and living it to best of my ability. It is about that love in each of us being truly born. It’s about being saved to this life and not the next, whatever that may be.

To repeat Nathan C. Walker “Today’s question is not “What happens when we die?” it is “What happens when we stop living?” Let us live one day, this day”

Easter for me is not about some distant utopia but for we who live right here right now. It’s not so much hope for some heaven, or nirvana or even Oz in some place beyond our time and space, but about creating the commonwealth of love right here right now. Easter for me is about proclaiming that we each and every one of us have our part play in how the story unfolds, if we are just willing to wake up to all we can be, to find the courage to be all that we can be. All we have to do is listen, to pay attention to our world, to hear that still small voice, that sound that can be heard through silence and when we hear it call out our name to answer it and to bring that spirit of Easter into all that we are and we can be, to bring renewal and rebirth to life. This is our responsibility, our purpose, God will not do it for us, it is we who must build the New Jerusalem, right here, right now. God is with us, but will not do it for us.

To repeat Wendell Berry “The tomb is empty. There is no death. Death is our illusion,
our wish to belong only to ourselves, which is our freedom to kill one another. From this sleep may we too rise, as out of the dark grave.

Is this what resurrection truly is, to rise out of this dark grave, to finally live this life in love, to stop the harm, the hurt, the brutality, the killing.

Resurrection is love born from death, a love that transforms, that brings us to life, to new life perhaps. Hope born from despair, new hope, fresh hope, respair. Sometimes this is actual grief, born from literal loss. That deep aching hole, when we lose someone we love deeply. Such loss can break us. I am sure we have all felt such loss, some very recently. There are other deaths too, smaller deaths perhaps. The loss of a friendship, a job, a way of life, a marriage, a love, a physical or mental ability. The death of a long held dream. All these griefs are barren places in our lives, we feel we are losing our lives, places of sorrow, suffering and lamentation.

Yet from the empty tomb love is born again, from despair is born hope. Like waking on this first day of summer time. Eyes blinking as if for the first time. When downcast eyes are suddenly looking skyward in new Hope, fresh Hope “Respair”. Like those immortal words of e. e. cummings 'i thank You God for most this amazing day,', resurrection means “that they who have died are alive again in 'the gay, great happening illimitably earth.' Like a new spring day the earth is alive it is again illimitable. Isn’t this what resurrection meant 2,000 years ago and isn’t it what it means for we who live today. Let us all be alive again.

This is Easter

“Today’s question is not “What happens when we die?” it is “What happens when we stop living?” Let us live one day, this day” to once again paraphrase Nathan C. Walker

Let us live before we die, let us not live an lived life.

I remember hearing the following tale about Dawna Markova wrote a wonderful, moving and beautiful poem following the death of her father. I believe it illustrates precisely what is meant by resurrection by being born once again to this life, following a deep loss, the death of her father.

Dawna’s father had been a powerful CEO, a driven and successful man, who slowly slipped away, due to Alzheimer’s. As she visited him at the end of his life he was a shadow of the powerful figure he had been throughout his life. When Dawna was a child, her father never told her he loved her, believing in some weird way that it might weaken her. But that last day as she was leaving he finally told her, for the first and last time in her life, “I love you too, sweetheart.”

Dawna had struggled with her relationship with her father all her life. When she received the news that her father had died, something changed inside her, a new love was born in the tomb of her heart. That night the love she felt for him poured through her, turning into a torrent of tears. She wept herself to sleep that night, an outpouring of love. At three in the morning she awoke and felt moved to get up and write. Words flowed through her, almost as if they were a final message from her father. She wrote the following:

I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance,
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.

As I look at the blossom around me, as I watched the guys in the gardens planting seeds on Tuesday morning I thought of this poem and thought to myself how I hope to live my life so that whatever comes to me as seed goes to the next as blossom and that which comes to me as blossom goes on as fruit. For isn’t this transformation the message of love that was born again from those who fled the empty tomb that first Easter morning.

The message of Easter is the power of love coming back to life, transforming in new and wonderful ways. It can happen at any time in our lives. Easter implores us to live, to allow the renewal and resurrection of our souls, to risk living life alive, fully alive, to love abundantly. To risk our hearts in love. To take the seeds that are planted in us, water and nurture them until they blossom and can be handed to another. To take the gift of blossoms and warm them with the sunshine of our souls and the rain of our energy, until they bring forth fruit.

May we all rise from our sleep and not die an unlived life.

Happy Easter, Alleluis, Alleluia.


Below is a video devotion based on the material in this "blogspot"

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