As a child, Easter Sunday was a blur of Mass, breakfast, Easter Egg hunting, and Easter basket rummaging. We might revel in the warmth or shiver in the late winter snow of Montana. The Resurrection itself was lost on me in the early years, but Jesus was in the Easter chocolate, too. Our childhood theologies can be true yet insufficiently robust as life’s challenges accrue.
Visiting my parents and Smom this past Easter season (six weeks long in the Catholic and much of Christian tradition) led to different moments of joyful resurrection. The folks are 90+ years young and/or feeling their days, and my seventh decade is rounding the corner. This is all new to us, and the newness creates a symphony of life music. Some themes are anticipated but were still unimagined. When did making my bed start to take so long?!? Of course I only imagined my parents’ bodies aging, not my own — which leads to funny and wistful “helping” at times.
But amidst it all, Joy rises up in just being together. In green faithfully forcing its way through ground and bud to shout Hallelujah again! Harmonies of blossoms join in. The deeper truth among my childhood memories is the joy of being together and witnessing God’s Creation around us and in our relationships.
In the Ignatian spiritual tradition, St. Ignatius’ The Spiritual Exercises includes reflections on passages, a spiritual imagining and placing of yourself in the scene while engaging all of your senses and being. In that space, we let Jesus engage with us. There are some notable gospel scenes that Ignatius did not incorporate directly (though you could), e.g., Pentecost.
But there is only one scene-setting Spiritual Exercise that is not in the gospels. St. Ignatius, perhaps reflective of the longing he had for his own mother who died in childbirth, imagined Jesus in the Resurrection first visiting Mary (SE 218, 299).
The Resurrection is the font of these wellsprings of joy, making clear Who is the source.
Of course, e e cummings in his poem [i thank you God for most this amazing] gives us a source of ready Easter renewal in any moment, as shared by SALT Lectionary. (Their Sixth Week of Easter scripture highlights Jesus’ exhortations for “works of love for the sake of joy.” In our world in which we move through accretions of sin and darkness from over the ages, it can be easy to forget that this is good news, joyful news we are sharing!
The Montana and Yellowstone National Park adventures that follow, amidst unlikely gray skies and cloud cover, are well-sprung by Easter Joy.