Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Sorrowing in a season of joy

Though eagerly gathered to hear the miraculous news that was being reported, the disciples were nevertheless terrified when that good news appeared in front of them in all-too-real flesh. What seemed conceivable at one remove —  perhaps it had been a ghost on the road to Emmaus —  was suddenly, shatteringly, staggeringly present. 

I can sympathize with the disciples' confusion, having once spent an Easter morning surrounded by families celebrating in their Easter finery only to spend that same Easter afternoon at a funeral home greeting black-clad mourners at my husband’s wake.  I struggled then to hear Christ’s “Peace be with you,” over the clamor of grief.  I struggled to reconcile joy and sorrow, certainty and uncertainty. I struggle again this Easter,  in the wake of my nephew's murder, to experience Easter as unalloyed joy.

In his book, Into the Silent Land, Martin Laird, OSA, points out that when we go in search of peace in prayer, we often find what feels like chaos. But, he says, it is precisely in this meeting of confusion and peace that healing happens. Not by erasing our pain, but by opening a path for grace. The resurrection did not erase the pain of Christ’s passion, nor does it take away our own travails, as this reflection on Mary's experience captures so evocatively here. Even as I grapple with the paradox of that long ago Easter morning, it exposes as yet unhealed wounds. 

I find in this gospel a space where those of us who are rubbed raw by sorrow in the midst of joy, who are simultaneously mourning and rejoicing, can reach for healing. Stretch out your hands to me, says Jesus, touch my wounds and find a glimmer of peace. For I am here with you, wounded and yet whole, to the end of time.

This is a version of a reflection from Rejoice and Be Glad, Liturgical Press, 2019.

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