Were I a better Christian, lent would evoke gratitude and a profound awareness of all that God has done for me, for us all. Easter actually is my favorite holiday. And while I feel like I need to say that my favor flows certainly from the hope intrinsic in the resurrection, the deeply seeded belief that new life indeed rises where all seems dead and hopeless…I think in reality, Easter is my favorite holiday because it openly faces that which is gruesome, and hard, and painful. For this season, we needn’t pretend things are better than they are. Vapid facebook posts may be ignored and being fully present is not only accepted, it is encouraged. Or should be. There is no resurrection Sunday without death. There is no joyous “Christos Anesti” with the exuberant response of “Alethos Anesti” if darkness had not settled in seemingly to drown the world in sorrow.
And so sorrow is what I recall today. It is the anniversary of the day my brother was killed. It is the before and after defining moment of my life. And oh so many years ago now, it was Easter Sunday as the hospital called to ask for someone to come offer identification. The body they had turned out to be that of his friend. The body I identified and then prayed for his sister knowing how hard that would be to have a brother, killed just as adult life seemed to be beginning. It was only a few minutes later I didn’t have to imagine that pain, I was ushered into a club I never wanted to enter. It changed me, it changed my parents, it changed the very ground underneath my feet. Resurrection was not going to happen for me that day.
And here we are, it is spring, and Easter is my favorite holiday even today. Palm Sunday is just around the corner and preparation are being made. The picture attached is of my dining table. My sweet husband surprised me with flowers today. A small reminder that in the midst of a day filled with dark memories, is beauty. A small reminder that when I can’t go get hope myself, he is willing to bring it to me. I wasn’t trying to make a statement setting them on the table in front of the cross. The cross is always there and the table was free of clutter. It was a convenience. That convenience however reminds me that where death resides, something stronger comes…it just may take time. Resurrection may not have happened that day for me so many years ago, and there are still plenty of days where grief surprises me and smacks me up side the head out of nowhere. But now, there are also days where a vase of flowers appears and surprises me just as much. The difference is that one brings a message of hope. Grieve… and know it is not the end of the story.