Tag Archives: Easter

April Sonnet

13 Apr

Heart-waking is the word Sister Alice Smith invents to describe spring and Easter poetically in her April sonnet. Theologically the God who creates and sustains the cosmos is the God who raised up Jesus to new life and promises us lasting friendship. Liturgically Lent moves toward spring and Easter. In the northern hemisphere flowers and budding trees revive the human spirit in sync with Jesus’ wholehearted outpouring of his love in his passion and the new eighth day of creation of his resurrection.

A very blessed Easter to you from all of us at Good Ground Press.

The Sacred Ordinary Now

1 Apr
Photo via Flickr user Marco Giumelli

Photo via Flickr user Marco Giumelli

A few months ago, when the rocks were covered with snow, my family took a plane flight south to chase the sun. During our layover, we found a big open rotunda. My son, just over a year, ran around squealing with happiness. He pointed and pointed urgently out the big windows watching the planes and trucks. He could have stayed for hours.

I realized he had a different sense of time than I did. For me, this was just a necessary stop on the journey. Our destination was another time and place. We were just passing time. For him, the airport was the destination. He had no sense of where we were going or how long we’d be away from home. He was not pacing himself. He was fully present, fully open and joyfully accepting what that time had to offer. In his enthusiasm, I become more present, too. We were not waiting to live, waiting to arrive, we were living. We had arrived. The layover was the destination. I think of the airport rotunda often in my daily life as I try to live in the present.

On the first nice day of the season about a month ago, my little boy stopped along the side of the house to pick up a rock. He seemed to choose one very carefully and proceeded to hold onto it for the entirety of the walk. I thought it a fluke until he chose a different rock the next day on the way to the park. He handed it to me when we got to the playground to keep in my pocket, and held it again on the stroller ride home. It has become a ritual that I find so endearing– taking a piece of home with us on the journey until we return. The rock seems to ground him in home as we venture out. It has become a part of our routine that I find comfort in. He takes something as ordinary as a rock and gives it meaning. It becomes his companion in his little hand, something tangible to take hold of. As we explore farther and farther from home, home still awaits us. I muse about heaven as a home that awaits us and what we will hold in our hearts from this place as we travel there.

He, like so many children, seems to have a knack for presence and ritual. He invites me to my higher self, making sure I don’t miss out on what today has to offer me, hidden in the rocks. Children apply meaning to the ordinary and find awe in things adults can take for granted. In this way, being a mom has re-centered me in the present and reminded me of the importance of ritual.

Easter is a great ending to Jesus’ story in the Gospels. For us, the ones here and now, Easter is just the beginning of our story. Children seem to know that and want to remind us. There is something for us here and now, in this life, in this time and place. Mindfulness and ritual can help us to celebrate that this Easter season.

 

 

Easter in This Life

24 Mar
Photo via Flickr user Anne Reeves

Photo via Flickr user Anne Reeves

“Hang on,” I wrote to my friend yesterday, “Easter is coming.”

A lot of people close to me are suffering. A friend’s transplant match fell through. A high school sophomore is having dark thoughts of hurting himself. My dad got a cancer diagnosis and is waiting to hear more about the implications. A friend was sexually harassed at work. My friend’s baby is in the hospital with pneumonia, not able to breathe on his own. Another friend’s dad died suddenly. We are sitting in Good Friday, waiting for Easter.

We know Easter is coming, but Jesus’ friends didn’t. Jesus, the friend they thought was the Messiah, died. He was gone. Can you imagine the grief and confusion filling those days between? Did their minds go to anger? Resentment? Betrayal? Hopelessness? They weren’t days of waiting because they didn’t know Easter was coming. I have to imagine some of them thought is was just over. Jesus was just really gone for good. To this day, we are always surprised at the permanence of death. Death from this place really is forever. It’s jarring. So I assume Jesus’ friends were dealing with this reality. In shock. Jarred.

In that way, I feel lucky to know the whole story, to know that Good Friday is not the end. Yet unlike Jesus’ friends, we don’t get to see Jesus risen. Not yet. Easter will come after Good Friday, and then our lives here continue. I do hope Easter gives the people I care for a moment of relief, but our pain here and now continues. We trudge on, looking for ways to claim mini resurrections in this life, our messy, broken lives. I asked the young people I work with how they know it is spring:

you hear birds singing

you see green breaking through the dirt

you can walk outside without a heavy coat, scarf, hat and mittens

Spring is coming. The days are getting longer. There is relief and renewal if we just hang on. With my son more stable these days, no longer a baby, I have felt a mini resurrection in my own life. I see friends, go for a run, find myself more emotionally available to other people. I sleep through the night and wake up refreshed. I choose to claim the beauty and new life in my days, in the midst of all the suffering. It is a daily decision to acknowledge the Easter and now.

Bukowski reminds us of the mini resurrections that happen in this life while we wait for the next:

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.

you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.

(experts from “The Laughing Heart”)

Happy Easter to you. May you beat death in life, sometimes. May you find your Alleluia.

Gospel Reflection for March 27, 2016, Easter Sunday

21 Mar

Sunday Readings: Acts 10.34, 37-43; Colossians 3.1-4 or 1 Corinthians 5.6-8; John 20.1-9 (10-18)

Mary Magdelene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord.”

(John 20.18)

The act of raising Jesus from the dead reveals who God is — the one who gives life. By accepting death, Jesus reveals that God’s power lies not in magic or military might but in love. Love is the power that gives life, especially its concrete forms such as forgiving, serving others, sharing. These are the powers death cannot defeat. These are the human actions that reveal God as people go out and beyond themselves.

Jesus’ resurrection calls us to trust ourselves to God at our own deaths as Jesus trusted God on the cross. Our Easter faith calls us to trust the life-giving Creator whose presence shows forth in all that is and the sustaining Spirit who holds us in being.

What affirms your faith in Jesus’ self-giving way of life?

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Celebrate Mercy

3 Mar
Click on the image to download your own Lenten cross.

Click on the image to download your own Lenten cross.

When Pope Francis announced the Year of Mercy last April he said, “Wherever the Church is present, the mercy of the Father must be evident.  Wherever there are Christians, everyone should find an oasis of mercy.”  The Gospels for the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent have vivid pictures of mercy.  One more chance for the fig tree.  A party for the sorrowful son, a reprieve for a sinful woman.  Read the Sunday by Sunday reflections on mercy here and let God’s merciful love sink into your heart during the week.

Use any of the following Lenten practices that speak to you.  Add color to your Lenten cross.  Lent is half over!  Easter is near.


There are only three weeks of Lent remaining. Easter is coming as sure as the earth is greening and flowers are poking up through the dirt. Take time this week to follow one or more of the Lenten practices below. Color your Lenten cross if you have downloaded one.

PLANT

  • Treat yourself to a flowering plant or bulb that will flower soon.
  • Make plans for a garden. Get a child to help you.

SIMPLIFY

  • Forgive a debt.
  • Remove three things from your living area – each day!

PRAY

  • Thank God for all you have learned from a painful failure.
  • Take a page of your address book and pray for everyone there.

READ

  • Read chapter 1 of the book of Genesis. Spend the day complimenting God as you notice the “very good” work of creation around you.
  • Look over the Seder supper. Gather a group of friends to celebrate a Seder meal.

FAMILY and FRIENDS

  • Walk and talk with a grandchild or grandparent.
  • Plan to send Easter cards.

PARTICIPATE

  • Skip the Easter candy and give a flock on chicks to your children or grandchildren instead. Go to heifer.org to find out how to make this gift.
  • Make an Easter gift to Catholic Charities.

Ascension

12 May
Photo via Flickr user Katharina Friederike

Photo via Flickr user Katharina Friederike

“To them I have revealed your name, so that your love for me may live in them.” – John 17.26

Whose kindnesses and love bring this text alive in your life? How can you, too, have Christ’s love live on in your daily tasks?

Put a photo of someone you admire or love in a place where you see it daily. Give thanks to God for this person in your life.

Prayer for the week

Come, Holy Spirit.

6th Week of Easter

5 May
Photo via Flickr user Olga Lednichenko

Photo via Flickr user Olga Lednichenko

“Peace is my gift to you.” – John 14.27

Jesus promises his disciples peace. He sends them on Easter evening to be instruments of his peace and forgiveness as God has sent him. Be an instrument of peace in your family and office.

Look over the day each evening to see how what the Spirit of Christ risen is teaching you.

Prayer of the week: Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

5th Week of Easter

28 Apr
Love-Large

Photo via Flickr user Farrukh

“I give you a new commandment: Love one another.”

John 13.34

The risen Jesus makes “Love one another” the simple command he leaves with his friends. Love is not only a feeling but a verb, actions we do. Serve. Include. Forgive. Share. Reach out. Listen. Comfort.

Pay attention to local and world news events about people of other cultures and religions, or those suffering neglect or hate. Pray for them. Live your prayer and the new commandment at home and in the office. Find a way to step beyond your usual circle to help someone in need of food, education, shelter, presence.

Prayer of the Week: God is good to all and compassionate toward all God has made.

Community Truth

24 Apr
Photo via Flickr user Waiting For The word

Photo via Flickr user Waiting For The word

19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again,”Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” 24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” 26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. –John 20

Every Easter season we hear the same story. The tomb is empty. The impossible happened. Life wins. Every Easter season we are confronted by the absurdly hopeful idea that Jesus rose from the dead. Every year, we have to decide all over again if we believe. Unlike Thomas, we don’t get to stick our fingers in the wounds of Jesus for proof. We have not seen, but are asked to believe. At times, it can seem daunting, to decide what, in fact, I actually believe.

My spouse, who can read this text in it’s original language, pointed out something in this passage that offered me a sense of comfort this Easter season. Look at the differences between all the “we’s” and “I’s” and “you’s”. Look at the difference between what the disciples say and what Jesus says to the disciples, and what Thomas says. Jesus says “Peace be with you (plural). As the Father has sent me, so I send you (plural).” And the disciples say to Thomas, “We have seen the Lord.” Thomas, on the other hand, is all “I’s” and “me” and “my”: “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

Now, that may seem like a small detail. Thomas is one person speaking, while the disciples are speaking as a group; of course Thomas would use singular pronouns. But there’s something bigger going on here. The truth of Jesus’ resurrection doesn’t rely on a singular person’s experience. It wasn’t just Mary Magdalene who saw the empty tomb; it was Mary and Simon, Peter, and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and then the others. And Jesus didn’t appear to just her or him. Jesus appeared to them.

The truth of Jesus’ resurrection doesn’t rely on a singular person’s experience. In fact, the truth rarely does. Truth is communal. Truth is held by communities. What is overwhelming to me at times is having to speak from the I singular. It is wonderful to concentrate on speaking from the I plural. I enjoy thinking, talking, studying and discussing as a community, knowing the community leans on years and decades and centuries of thought. I enjoy having my thoughts changed or grown or strengthened by the stories and experiences of my neighbors and my community and people across the world who think differently than I do. That support, that accountability, that communal discernment offers me comfort on the way. So let us, this Easter season, continue to work toward articulating and living out what we together believe.

4th Week of Easter

21 Apr
Photo via Flickr user Waiting For The Word

Photo via Flickr user Waiting For The Word

 

“My sheep hear my voice. I know them and they follow me.” – John 10.27

Good shepherds care for their flocks, or employees, or clients, or students as they do for themselves. They accompany their flocks through danger, drought, and dark valleys.

Hear what God’s voice directs you to do in your daily life. Be a caring friend and coworker this week, especially to those who seem outside the flock or in danger.

 

Prayer of the Week: Lord, you are my shepherd. Let me hear your voice.

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