My older brother once made me believe I could sell cotton to K-Mart. He and his friend were mucking about in our backyard, gathering all the fluffy seeds that were blanketing our lawn in white as the tall cottonwoods spread their hopes to the wind at the tail end of summer. They were burning their hard earned gatherings in a white five gallon bucket, the way any two young pyromaniacs with a summer afternoon at their feet would do. I was gullible and misguided, and totally believed them when they told me I too could gather and burn cotton, and then turn it in to the local K-Mart down the road for some cash in return. Off I went gathering like a maniac. I never made it to K-Mart and don't remember exactly what clued me in to their ruse, but eventually I was heartbroken to realize not only had they fooled me, but my hopes for some easy cash were dashed.
Sometimes I worry that Easter might feel the same way. While I don't get too worried about the pastel plastered family picture, or making a ham or hot cross buns, I do set my hopes on the real life hope of the Resurrection. But like anyone, I also live in the day to day world, and when a friend loses her husband, or a student in our school dies tragically, when a brother leaves his wife or I lose myself to anger with my kids, I hear the "He is Risen!" words knocking about like a tin can in an empty room. I don't want them to feel empty, but especially-- I don't want them to BE empty.
So in this week of days since Easter came and went, since we said those words to one another and claimed his victory in song and praise, I've been looking for ways to rehearse and know that where it matters, where daily life hits hard, He is Risen indeed.
In today's cultural climate, it seems like any sort of spirituality will do and sell and be acceptable, except of course-- Jesus. Jesus is just for crazies. I don't like being thought of as crazy any more than most people, but more than what people think, I want to know God for real. I see evidence for Him in our world, I read the Bible with rapt hunger and amazement (sometimes bafflement) at it's truth, I believe the historical record and testimony of Jesus. And I don't think it smells like those burning buckets of cotton lies. So if my experience of God in the day to day is a journey of faith, I am increasingly okay with that. If I have to learn ways of seeing Him be at work and present and alive in our fleshy world that strains so hard to accept the spiritual, I am learning to walk securely in that.
This week I saw him in a group of children jubilantly dancing in song. And I couldn't help but imagine a whole world of people dancing and singing, some to hip hop, some to tribal beats, some to chambered hymns, some to monastic chants, and the Lord of all dancing and singing in and among each of them, or perhaps just beaming over them.
I saw him when my daughter taught me about the circulatory and digestive and respiratory systems and we marveled at the body created and sustained.
I saw him in my husband's peace and hope and trust in hard circumstances.
I saw him when I struggled in guilt and envy, that turned to confession and trust, and then joy and thankfulness.
I saw him in these three stories, shared so powerfully. Oh for the Good and Beautiful Life.
I saw him in the fierce and piercing eyes of a friend, who walks a hard road but bursts with Love and thankfulness. Who can be thankful for hard things? But she is.
I saw him when I felt shunned and afraid, but he walked with me and I was not alone.
I saw him when my man talked of a book about history and how it showed the sweep of our natures like a looking glass and all our attempts like sad tales. But for the ribbons of truth and grace that weave through those tales with a shimmering gleam.
Still, I so easily stand with Thomas, like all of us honest doubters who need to see and feel, or they just can't believe. And the Lord, was he tender and yet stern, or just full of understanding as he offered his hands and feet and side and said to that doubting man? See, it really is me. But for all those who won't be able to see and feel, and who still believe, they will be blessed.
Here we walk then, in these weeks of Easter aftermath, all these days of our lives without seeing and yet believing, blessed and haunted, eager and unsure, confident and crazy, amazed and comforted all at once.