The transition from Good Friday to Easter necessitates a dramatic change of gear. I am particularly thinking about my own experience at the moment. The great cycle of our Christian faith, which for liturgical Christians unfolds through the vehicle of the Calendar is unvarying. Yet, my experience of moving through the cycle, year by year, brings out different responses depending on what is coming-up in my own internal spiritual and emotional process.
With all the hoopla stirred up by the Republican Party’s presidential nomination process these past months, this Holy Week I became particularly sensitive to the political nature of Jesus’ challenge to the political and religious status quo of 1st Century Palestine (note my last posting).
The arrival of Easter Day bursts open the tomb of my existentially-rooted spiritual reflections and my sights are raised to the Divine Action in the drama. This experience is like the sensation I have every time I travel north from Phoenix on Highway 17. Being still relatively new to Arizona I am not sure exactly where it is but there is a point where after climbing up through a rugged and hilly terrain one arrives at a point where suddenly a huge plateau expanse opens-up to view. What strikes me each time is that this expansiveness is both a horizontal and vertical expansiveness. It’s not just a sudden widening of the horizon. It’s also at the same time an opening up of the depth of sky.
I am reminded that at the human level of Jesus’ road to the Cross what has been taking place is the necessary element of human willing co-operation that brings events to the point where God is able to act. God’s expression of deep love for the world is contingent upon a human participation in the sacrifice of love. Suddenly the horizon and the sky opens in breadth and depth leading to something that is truly unimagined by us.
We human beings are story-telling creatures. In an age when a narrow scientific paradigm has substituted explanation for narrative, Faith reminds us that the need to tell stories is deeply engrained in our human DNA. The right hemisphere of the human brain is the gateway for sensory experience. The left hemisphere of our brain continually performs an editing and cataloguing function that creates narratives to articulate the multilayered depth of our experience.
Easter involves recalling the stories beginning with the Creation in the first chapter of Genesis and moving inexorably through the stories of the Exodus, the Prophets, arriving at Jesus and the Cross and Resurrection. These are the fundamental themes of the shared Divine-Human story unfolding through a repeated pattern of divine invitation and halting human response. On the whole the story shows that human beings prefer to hide in the safety of the familiar. Yet, every-so-often we become overwhelmed by the constriction of our timidity. At these points, often points of crisis in our lives, we find that we can ill afford not to open to God’s invitation to the new.
Easter burst open the tomb of my human-centered perspectives. The experience of the Cross and Resurrection confronts we with my love of the familiar. A familiar that deadens my awarenesses. I am afraid I have to be confronted by new life. It’s a surprise, because my tendency is to forget and return to making the same old choices always expecting different results. So each time the promise of new life breaks open my self-centered-ness, I am truly surprised by joy.