And on this most joyful day of the year, I struggled to find joy, and instead felt sadness. At church, I almost immediately burst into tears when someone innocently asked me "do you have any family around?" and the answer was no. And then, a few minutes later, the subject came up again, and I did start to cry.
I've never felt so sad and emotional on a holiday before, and I have celebrated many of them far away from family. Why was this Easter different? I really can't answer that.
I remember one time thinking about all of my moves and a verse from the Bible about being a wanderer came to mind. I thought it would probably make a great part of a blog post until I looked it up and saw that the speaker was Cain. I mean, really, who wants to identify with the first murderer? So I used Abraham's story instead, in "A Wandering Alien" (and also explored the idea of moving in "Reflections on My Past Year"). I still feel as though I am wandering, and I wonder if I ever will not be wandering. Living in the middle of the country even feels like a metaphor. We're a 2-3 day drive from either of our families, and our church here is becoming our family. But still. When it comes to holidays, most people think first of their biological family, not their church family.
After church, we came home, I made breakfast, and after that started preparing our afternoon meal (roast chicken, potatoes, gravy, peas, rolls). Throughout the day, during the cooking, the cleaning up (both the house in general and the food prep), and I think I even started a load of laundry that night, I thought, "this seems like an ordinary day, but it's supposed to be a special day."
As I've mulled that over in the days since, I have thought about some of Jesus' teachings about the kingdom.
- "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; 32 it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches." (Matthew 13:31-32)
- He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened." (Matthew 13:33)
- Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:4)
Mustard seed. Yeast. A child. These are small, ordinary, everyday things.
While the Resurrection is of the utmost importance in our faith, how do we see it in light of the everyday? When we've left church on Easter Sunday and the music, flowers, high emotions, and prizes (ugh!) are behind us, when we've finished celebrating the Resurrection with our church family, what do we do next? How do we see new life in our own lives, in those lives that we live every day? Can we see it when we are cranky about waking up in the morning after sleeping next to a snoring toddler who sneaks into our bed? Can we see it when we are yelling at our kids? Can we see it when we just don't feel like getting dressed and just throw on ratty clothes? Can we see it when we have to pick kids up at school and make breakfasts and lunches and dinners and clean up and vacuum and dust and then turn around and do it all over again? Can we see the resurrection when we ache inside for those we can't be with?
Celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday is important, yes. But that's the easiest day of the year to do it. That's when it is impossible not to.
But what about when it is hard? How do we see new life when all we hear about are people we know getting cancer or getting hurt in car accidents? That is when it is challenging. That is when we cling to hope in spite of our doubts. That is when we need it the most--the times when it seems the furthest away. The times when we feel more like Good Friday or Holy Saturday than Easter Sunday and hopelessness creeps in.
But it's not hopeless. That's the point.
He is risen. Yes, He is risen indeed.
Is he risen in your life?