Easter anyway

I wasn’t ready for Easter.

Lent has always been one of my favorite times of year. I love its clean, spare lines, its way of cutting to the truth of my faith, its insistence on paring away all that is not necessary in my spiritual life. This year, I found Lent particularly fitting, both in my own life and in our national and ecclesial lives. On a communal level, it has seemed right to move more deeply into the knowledge of our brokenness and frailty. My own Lent provided me space to explore a new and deeper kind of asceticism. I relished the silence and the space of Lent, the return to a simple and basic faith. I noticed that as Holy Week approached, I felt a lot of resistance to the coming of Easter and the return of the alleluias. I would have loved a few more weeks of Lent.

And yet, no matter my resistance, Easter came, as it always does. It started, predictably enough, during the Vigil. As the first reader began the lesson from Genesis, I felt myself overcome by the simple, extraordinary grace of creation. New insight broke on me in that moment, and I realized that wholeness (salvation, to use another word) is bound up in the very fabric of the universe. God’s continuous pouring out of her essence to birth the world is itself both crucifixion and resurrection, bound together in a seamless unity.

That small experience of hearing the story of creation with renewed ears has been the seed of a dawning sense of new life within me, new life that is essentially a deepening of the life that has been going on since before I was born.

In my conversations, prayer, writing, and–of course!–gardening over the last two weeks, I’ve become aware in a way that is both profound and completely ordinary, that my relationship to the earth has been the fulcrum of my growing sense of wholeness in God. As many of you know, when I first came to the monastery, I had no experience gardening. And yet, I found myself drawn to the neglected garden spaces, guided by the intuition that as I worked to restore them, I was also cooperating with God’s work of restoration within me. In that work of restoration, and in the spaciousness of meadow, river, and woods, I am able to partake in the communion of my body with the body of the earth. That communion has returned me to my body in a way I didn’t even realize I needed.

So, yes, Easter has come, anyway–in the smallest of seeds growing, perhaps, into a large shrub where, with the swallows, I, too, can make my nest with God.

The Lord is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

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