Just as the robins returned with their birdsong, with fluttering and fluffing of nests, heralding spring, so, too, did the Easter season return this year.
For 40 days of Lent, we wandered in the desert together, and now, for 50 days, we sing “Alleluia!” The Easter season stretches to Pentecost, and though, at its arrival, it didn’t look like Easters past, the Resurrection still came around, the stone still rolled away from the tomb, and with that empty cavern came hope.
I’ve been sitting with this word “hope” a lot this Easter season, but it’s worth returning to. In some ways, it’s really all we have and all we can offer.
My friend Merideth Sorenson knew this deeply. It’s why she named her fourth child Hope. Meredith lost her two-year battle with cancer just a few days after Easter, suffering with Jesus, then following him in the rising. Now, Hope grounds her family here, just as hope brought her home.
I’m grieving this loss with many, saddened at the lack of a last hug and in-person funeral, yet grateful that we will always think of her synonymously with the Resurrection of our Lord. Her “Alleluia,” full and fragrant now, blends with ours as we continue our hope-filled wait.
Hope is replete this time of year. On Good Friday, the Church universal prayed for everyone in the world. It’s among my favorite prayers, for all groups are named, including those who deny God’s existence.
I’ve broached the topic of non-belief a few times here, knowing my attempts will be incomplete, but believing that until we look squarely at the divide that separates us, we will never find a way to meet. The conversation must begin somehow, even if imperfectly, and it’s worth trying.
In searching honestly for what the Christian faith has to offer that other worldviews don’t, I initially came up short. We can be a pretty sorry lot. Though our convictions are worthy, we don’t always live them well, and as fallen creatures like everyone, we only occasionally meet our own ideals well enough to become canonized saints.
I asked myself, why should anyone living life on their own terms be inclined to join us, to be open to denying themselves, surrendering their wills, and sacrificing their comfort for the sake of others? At that, I returned to “hope,” and the truth that we were made for more than this life. Our true home lies beyond this imperfect earthly existence, and what awaits us, in all its glory, will transform every heartache here to eternal joy.
Christians fall short, like everyone, but we have this one, real, sure thing to offer, and it’s worth considering. In our own imperfections, we hold out hope and ask for trust – not in us, but in the loving God to whom we cling and place ours.
It is still Easter, a time to risk all for the One who died for us all. What have we to lose?
[For the sake of having a repository for my newspaper columns and articles, I reprint them here, with permission, a week after their run date. The preceding ran in The Forum newspaper on May 4, 2020.]