If I’ve done the Holy Week thing right, I really, really feel relieved and happy on Easter morning. I can hear the birds chirping out my window as if for the first time. I appreciate sunlight, even if it is obscured by clouds, in a way I never thought possible. The reason for such unbridled joy is not just the prospect of donning a cute Easter dress (thought that helps). I can feel joy because I’ve immersed myself fully in the despair of Holy Week.
Some of you who know me well know that “feeling all the feels” is not my strong suit. I prefer keeping a cool distance from powerful and messy emotions. Not during Holy Week. That’s time to just throw yourself into the deep end of the emotional pool. If I do my spiritual job right, I tentatively and fearfully wave my palm branch in the air during Jesus’ triumphal (though short-lived) entry into Jerusalem. I prepare for the Passover meal. The bile rises in my throat at Judas’ kiss of betrayal. I plant myself firmly in the shoes of Peter who denies Jesus not once, not twice, but three times. I watch — from my hiding place — Jesus get whisked away to the Sanhedrin for trial. I see Pilate appease the growing crowd by ordering Jesus’ flogging. I witness his painfully slow climb up the hill to Golgotha where all can see his brutal execution as a criminal insurrectionist. I finally gather his body, weeping, and prepare it for burial with the other women. I wait at the tomb, hoping, hoping, that this reality I’m living just isn’t true.
Then Easter morning comes. At daybreak, I stare, disbelieving at the empty tomb. I confuse Jesus for the gardener. When he speaks my name, breaks the bread, shows his wounds, I finally believe. I then run back to my friends shouting at the top of my lungs. He. Is. Alive.
So even if you’re not a Christian nor a believer of any kind, I wish that you, too, experience unexpected and unbridled joy today. Life is hard. Really hard sometimes. We all feel despair and suffering. We betray and are betrayed. We grieve the death of friends. We give up when hope seems absent.
But, none of the despair, fear and hopelessness has to have the final word. The birds sing. The sun rises. Joy breaks forth at dawn.
Happy Easter Everyone!