Even though it is only Monday of Holy Week, I’ve jumped ahead to Good Friday. Perhaps it is still my theological inclination to spend too much time at the cross and not enough in “ordinary” time or any other time for that matter. I lived a bit over two years of Good Fridays in my call as a pediatric chaplain and I am still searching for the joy of Easter that was stolen in those years.
But, Lent and Holy Week make me think of those who are trapped in Good Friday--those for whom the resurrection of Easter seems to never come. The children I’ve seen die, the desperately desired infants who never made it beyond the womb, the parents whose prayers seemed to go unheard, the gravesides adorned with pinwheels and teddy bears. These losses, these sacrifices without any seeming greater good--these have stolen little bits of the Easter joy for me through these last years. What good is Easter when such pain is all too common? It is an unending Lenten sacrifice without the remediation of the first fire of Easter.
But, what is Easter really? Does it have to be all alleluias and Easter lilies; is its meaning encapsulated by new dresses and eggy brunch? As the world crashes in I have begun to accept that in some ways, we’ve billed Easter wrong. Perhaps what we really need isn’t a joyful Easter but a defiant one. I am a priest and I am an obstinate woman who likes a God who can spit in the face of death, defy all the evils in the world and declare love victorious despite it all.
This Monday of Holy Week, under the umbrella of this long Good Friday, I ponder the sentence from John, “He loved them to the end.” This is a truth I can live with. There is an end, it hurts and hearts break—but in the midst of the suffering there is love. Ultimately, this encapsulates everything true of each death I’ve experienced--each child was loved until the end. And, perhaps the truth of the resurrection is that they are still loved and their story is unending.
So f’you death, you don’t get the last word.