I love this poem by Wendell Berry. I love that last line that reminds me that Easter is not a day or a moment but something we choose to do again and again. Easter is something that we practice after death seems to claim our lives, but these are not the words of poetry that most articulate my experience of Easter this year. Instead, I find myself ruminating on Jan Richardson’s Easter Blessing.
I am looking for a blessing. It’s true. I want one very much. Even before Lent, it feels like I’ve been groping in the dark for a blessing. I am tired and I want that assurance to come. I need it as much as I need God. This is actually what surprised me as I listened to the Gospel of Matthew yesterday. In this gospel narrative, it’s repeated that Jesus goes ahead of the disciples full of joy and fear. (Let’s remember that the women are actually the first disciples simply because they were the first to be at the tomb. There are twelve others. I know. They struggled with the faith that the women find in this moment of fear ad joy.) In this version of the story, the angel tells these women that they will see him. That’s the message he shares. And yet, this is same message is repeated by Jesus. After he greets the women, he tells them to go ahead because there they will see him. I admit that I wasn’t fully listening to the sermon my colleague preached. Instead, I was wondering where God goes ahead of me. I was wondering if the possibility of resurrection is actually just opening my eyes wide enough to actually see that God is there. She’s always been there, I imagine, but we’re all like those twelve. We all fail to see God sometimes.
Still, I want a blessing. I want to see God. I want to see God in this whole world. I want to know that my eyes are open that wide — but I know myself better than that. I’m one of the twelve. There are indeed moments where I feel that awesome presence. I felt it while hiking through the Camden Hills yesterday. I came to a clearing where all of the sudden I felt the presence of God. I literally cried in this awareness. I wished I could have stayed in that moment but it passed. I kept going. I pushed onward to the summit. I don’t know where God went. I pray that She went with me. I’d like to believe She did — but I only felt her in that moment in the clearing.
I don’t know if it’s possible to find God in every moment. Instead, it seems that we need the reminder. Every year, we need to find the miracle of celebrating this awesome mystery of God appearing where all human logic tells us that God can’t be. I don’t know if it’s because we make things too complicated or we are just that dense. It may be that we’re just stubborn. We want to rely on logic and order rather than the surprise that God really is in the most unlikely places. This not a simple faith — but it can be explained to a child as Rowan Williams did this week. What makes this complicated is how we choose to practice that faith. How do we move from the affirmation that God is truly everywhere — even there — to practicing that possibility?
Jan Richardson urges me to fill my lungs. Like the gospel author, this is news to be shared in our own words. We need to find ways to talk about the times we’ve seen God. We need to find struggled with our words so that we can better understand what it feels like to be blessed. We have to use our words to realize that the way we speak about this story truly can change the world. And so, knowing there is more to be said, I’m taking a deep breath. I’m preparing to use my words in the practice of resurrection.