Saturday, April 19, 2014

Waiting on Easter Joy

I'm anxious for the sunrise.

This has been a particularly meaningful Lent for me. I have participated (to the best of my ability) in the 40 bags in 40 days challenge and have cleaned out huge areas of my home (and consequently my life). I have kept the words of William Arthur Word in Fasting and Feasting close to my heart and tried to let them shape my attitudes and actions. And, as a result of both of these things I have found myself in deeper relationships, in moments of profound spiritual meaning, and renewed in my passion for the work that I do every day.

But I long for the joy that comes in the morning.

In my work, I am constantly in the midst of struggles for justice in all its forms and there has been no shortage of stories where the fight continues against immense odds. In my own personal life and in the lives of those around me there have been dark times and overwhelming grief. Domani is feeling Joe's loss in new ways as he grows, now wishing almost every day that he could "have his Daddy back". We are indeed Easter people living in a Good Friday world.

And I am ready to celebrate the end of Good Friday. And Holy Saturday. I am ready for our Risen Lord - especially after the last three days.

Thursday was a doozy. Work was stressful. I got myself into a car accident on the way to my office. Then, came the news that there was fraud on my credit card and a new one would have to be issued. Later that day it was a migraine and unbearable traffic on the Turnpike. By the time I arrived to my church's Maundy Thursday service I was feeling everything but holy.

And then my Lenten journey - the struggle between darkness and light - was caught in this beautiful prayer we said and I just could not hold back the tears.

A Prayer for Liberation

One: Gracious and Loving God, you make us for life that is full and joyous; you make us for love; you make us for community; you make us to be free. Too often, we turn from your ways and oppression results for us and for our sisters and brothers. God of the Exodus, act anew in your world.
All: Liberate us from the oppression of selfishness for the freedom of sharing. Liberate us from the oppression of anger and hatred for the freedom of peace. Liberate us from the oppression of guilt for the freedom of forgiveness.
One: God of the Exodus, liberate your children. Restore us to freedom.
All: Liberate us from oppression based on skin color or gender or other external characteristics for the freedom of living together as your children. Liberate us from the oppression of closets for the freedom of claiming our identity as your beloved. Liberate us from the oppression of false privilege for the freedom of knowing who we truly are.
One: God of the Exodus, liberate your children. Restore us to freedom.
All: Liberate us from the oppression of ruthless competition for the freedom of cooperation. Liberate us from the oppression of financial poverty for the freedom of sufficiency. Liberate us from the oppression of overconsumption for the freedom of enough in your grace.
One: God of the Exodus, liberate your children. Restore us to freedom.
All: Liberate us from the oppression of fear for the freedom of faith. Liberate us from the oppression of cheap cynicism and false optimism for the freedom of hope. Liberate us from the oppression of isolation and indifference for the freedom of love.
One: God of the Exodus, liberate your children. Restore us to freedom. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

I went home Thursday night, put Do to the Beast by the Afghan Whigs on my automatic turntable, mixed up a gin & tonic, and sat with my box of cards, letters, and mementos from the last 2 years. It was just as spiritual as the service at church. Just as I was about to begin my second spin of the album, the little guy woke up and wanted to join the listening party. It seemed right and so the second spin was for the two of us.

On Friday we had the joy of a lunch with my grandmother and the fabulous stories and special love that go with that. Then, once again, a visit to church to observe Good Friday. The church was open from 12pm-7pm, allowing people to stop in whenever they wanted and stay for as long as they wanted. There was a page prepared with readings to use as a guide for your time there, but I also just put my earbuds in and set some songs to play on my iPhone (something amazing about listening to Lost In The Woods in the sanctuary). It was the words of the guided approach that caught me this time.

Today God makes common cause with our human suffering.
We read the scriptures, sit with the hymns and feel the feelings of the day Christ died.
Suffering is not rational. It has no answer. But in the cross God meets us in our suffering. From this day forward we know that there is nowhere we can go where God is not with us. God, into your hands we commend our spirits.

For as dark as these days and months have felt there could have been no words more reassuring. After all, being alone in the dark is so much worse than the dark itself.

Today, Domani and I paid a visit to both the cemetery where my 3 grandparents are buried and the cemetery where Joe is buried. Domani has been asking more questions about death and heaven these days. I guess it comes with the territory of being a 3 year old and having dealt with death so intimately already. He wanted to know if we carried Daddy up to heaven when he died. He wanted to know when he could go to heaven and be with his Dad. And he wanted to know who brought the toys to the grave of the little boy buried next to Joe and what had happened to the train that was there last time.

Tonight, he was sad going to sleep. He looked up at the picture on his wall of the three of us from when he was a baby and said again that he wants his Daddy back. 

Yes, world, I am ready for Easter. I am so ready for Easter.

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