I am awake early once again and it’s Easter Sunday today. I glance out our back door. Dawn has not yet made its daily entrance; all remains dark, yet my heart fills with great hope in the midst of the black stillness. In many ways, it does not seem like Easter: no public Masses, no family gatherings, no large, formal brunches at restaurants.
The rain pelts on our concrete patio as I write this. Perhaps it is a sign of God’s tears, for we are still uncertain about the resolution of this pandemic. Maybe, though, it is a cleansing of the earth, a renewal. Or both.
Last night I learned about a friend of Ben’s parents, Randy, who died of organ failure related to this nasty virus. Only a week ago, he was released from the hospital, because he showed signs of improvement. Then he quickly and unexpectedly plummeted into death without the comfort of a priest.
I think of Easter in such terms: the suffering of humanity does not just abruptly halt because we celebrate resurrection. No, the losses remain. The sorrow and grief will make their indelible marks upon our hearts. Still, we look ahead. We hope. We see that all things, the greatest evils, are vanquished, eradicated by Love.
It is Love that joins both sorrow and joy. Love is the link that weds the highs and lows we experience, often together. We participate in both Christ’s Passion and His Resurrection when we enter into the fullness of Love – because Love sacrifices all – empties itself, yes, but Love also redeems and makes new.
So the profound sorrow still laden in the hearts of many Christians this day does not negate the truth of celebrating both life and death. Our sorrow is not erased, only transformed. And it is Love Incarnate who showed us that we can mourn, but we can laugh and hope at the same time.
Suffering and healing, sadness and joy, death and resurrection – these are not mutually exclusive. We do not invalidate suffering by our celebrating. Entering into the Paschal Mystery means we accept both as teachers, both as witnesses, both as integral parts to our common human experience and participation in the Divine Life.