Easter hasn't been my favorite holiday the last few years.
I grew up with a heavy-duty atonement theology, one that said I was a giant sinner. In fact, I was such a screw-up that God had to order his only son to come down to earth and die for my ass. Even as a child, that never made sense to me. That's love?! Now that I'm a parent, I wouldn't give my child's life for anyone or anything.
So I threw out my atonement theology and I've been trying to figure things out. If I had the energy right now on Holy Saturday, I could write for a really long time about what Easter is starting to mean to me. My church summed it it up best this week: "Crucified by fear, resurrected by love." Fear is what keeps us living small, focused on the ways we don't measure up, trying to get it right. Richard Rohr (God. How I love him.) says, "We grow spiritually much more by doing it wrong than by doing it right." Suffering, anxiety, death, disease, failure? They are here to stay. Resurrection means that we can still look our lives square in the face and find the Mystery there. Richard again: "Those who walk the full and entire journey...are always the ones who have heard some deep invitation to 'something more,' and set out to find it by both grace and daring."
And this is where Jesus comes in. I've very uncertain about the Deity of Jesus, but I'm in love with him right now. Jesus, in his crazy, loving, revolutionary life, was always asking, "What is the more?" More love, more justice, more truth, more intimacy. Last night at our Good Friday service, I was somehow, mercifully, released from stale stories about Jesus and dropped straight into a "You've got to be *&#ing kidding me" space. Mostly, I understood, for maybe the first time, how much Jesus must have hated to leave this world. How much he loved his friends, how high on life he was, how much he adored his mother, how many more meals he wanted to eat. (Come on. That's the most important.)
I think of Mary Oliver's poem "The Fourth Sign of the Zodiac" about her cancer. She describes seeing wilting, falling flowers one afternoon, and the next morning, "the shrubs were full of/the blue flowers again." And then, these beautiful lines:
wondered, did they roll or crawl back
to the shrubs and then back up to
the branches, that fiercely wanting,
as we all do, just a little more of
So I wrote my own poem. (Not surprising.) And my prayer for you? That resurrection--total, unflinching awareness--breaks over you in bold and surprising ways. Happy Easter.
Good Friday Burgers
After church with my kids,
waiting in the drive-through line
for burgers, cold drinks with straws,
rustling of paper bags
and stacks of napkins.
Lord, how you must have hated
to leave this world!
Seeing your tribe fall asleep
in the garden where you cried,
wanting more than anything
to wake up with them,
have another ordinary breakfast,
count out change for coffee,
keep at your endless task
of loving away their fears.
The clerk hands our food
through the window,
we eat these suppers
like the total, precious, greasy sacrament