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Today, Holy Thursday, begins the Triduum, the three days that recollect and celebrate the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. Most of us know this story well. We’ve pondered that journey. But how often do we think about the people who walked the path with Jesus?

Simon of Cyrene was picked out of the crowd to help Jesus carry the cross. How and why was he chosen? Well, we know he was from Africa. He might have been a person of color. Or the Roman guards simply noticed he wasn’t Jewish — he was “other.” Or he might have expressed sympathy for Christ. Whatever the reason, he is an outsider, someone from the fringes — the type of person Jesus favored in life.

The women of Jerusalem wept for Jesus and were comforted by him. Women weren’t exactly valued commodities in Jesus’ day. They were mostly seen as possessions, with no voice or agency of their own. Yet Jesus turns to women again and again in his life and along the road to his death — he listens to them. He values them. He speaks to them. Again, Jesus chooses the outsider.

Veronica wipes Jesus’ face. Again, a woman does the unthinkable, and Jesus rewards her with kindness.

The penitent thief (sometimes called Dismas) is crucified next to Jesus. What do we know about him? People were crucified for all sorts of crimes in Jesus’ day, but to be crucified for mere petty theft would have been a long shot, unless the thief was from the lower classes, or worse, a slave. Or the theft was far from petty — it was violent and extreme. There is some conjecture that the “thieves” were more like terrorists. Once again, it someone from the fringes, someone most unlikely, who responds to Christ’s call. In radically changing his heart, Dismas is promised paradise.

Women. Foreigners. Criminals. These are the people who walked the way of the cross with Jesus. Not his apostles. Not religious leaders. It was the most unlikely of people who shared the journey.

People are always amazed when I tell them that SueBE, Ruth and I have never met in person. Yet in my dark nights of the soul, they consistently walk with me. This Easter, take some time to ponder who walks with you. You just might be surprised.

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I’m still feeling a little high from Easter. If you’ve never been to a Catholic Easter Vigil mass, you’re missing out! A bonfire is set ablaze, parishioners with lit candles enter a darkened church, the pastor intones a Passover-flavored litany…people are baptized! The saints are celebrated! Baptismal vows are renewed! It is all a bit dizzying. But it got me contemplating eternity, which is, after all, what we all hope to savor as a result of Christ’s death and resurrection. Forever is, as Prince once observed, “a mighty long time.” What will we do with it?

One thing’s for sure: We will not be bored. I feel quite sure that time will lose meaning in Paradise, especially with whole universes to explore and a history of people to meet. As for my plans? Well, maybe I’ll start small.

When eternity comes
(if I am fit to meet it)
I will lie on my belly
in a field of grass.
I will take 10,000 years
to know a single blade.
I will memorize its particular
shade of green, watch it
bend in wind, predict its
dance. See dew settle on it,
or rain. 10,000 years will suffice
to know its root, the angle of its taper,
its scent and relation to its neighbors.
I will fix myself on this blade until
I know it so intimately that
no other blade of grass
could ever be mistaken
for it. And then (only then)
I will move on to the
next blade.

Photo by Hannah Olinger on Unsplash

I came across an article about what it means to be a Christian and there was a literal, no-kidding, honest-to-God (pardon the pun) checklist. If you repented and received Christ, ☑ check this box. If you are open to the leading of the Holy Spirit, ☑ check this box. If you belong to a Bible-based church that believes it is the inspired, inerrant word of God, ☑ check this box. At the end, you are to tally up your scores and, basically, get graded.

I’m not sure why some have decided to codify faith in this way, but I have to believe it wasn’t God’s idea.

Many faiths have their own interpretation of how to talk to God in prayer. Some have added chapters to the Bible, or believe that only their religion will lead to salvation.

Today, on Easter – and every day, for that matter – if you pray, God hears you. If you want to put the past behind you and find peace, you’re in. Talking to God is the same as talking to a friend. Say what’s on your heart.  No background checks. No credit scores. No character references. Just you and God, and the path of life ahead.

There’s no doubt about it. This has been a tumultuous Lent for many of us.  But tomorrow we celebrate a reminder that Christ is risen for us.

And that means all of us.  The crabby ones. The disorganized ones.  The baffled ones.  Even the ones who rejected Him yelling “Crucify him!” just days after greeting him with waving palm branches.

And he forgave them.  He forgives us all.  He washes us clean.

Honor your soul.  It isn’t easy but try to leave some of the anger at the foot of the cross.  Don’t look back.  Look forward.  Step out as a guardian of nature, a messenger of wonder, or an architect of peace.

–SueBE

 

Ready or not, here Easter comes.  I understand the feeling that Lori shared.  I feel like I’m tumbling into Easter which is, apparently, in three days.  You know how it goes – you know it is just around the corner but three days?  That little reality hit me yesterday as I listened to the preacher speak at a friend’s funeral service.

He was one of those people who was a champion at building something out of the stones that life through his way. He had to be.  The 9th of 10 children, he was 2 when his father died during the Great Depression.  It would have been easy to grow up a child of sorrow but that wasn’t Roy’s way.  When my son didn’t get the college scholarship he needed to attend his school of choice, Roy heard him out.

“So you’ll take this other one for two years and its a full scholarship?  Sounds like a good deal.” Roy wasn’t going to let him focus on the down side.

Things seldom go the way we plan.  People are seldom as cooperative and sunny as we would like.  We can mourn the reality of this or we can take what we have and build something new.

The life of a carpenter or even a rabbi would have been easier, but Christ walked towards the passion knowing his suffering would bring grace for those of us who could never achieve it on our own.

–SueBE

 

I’m not ready yet. For Easter, that is. Or maybe I’m too ready. It’s hard to tell. Certainly, Lent has been a rocky path, fraught with revelation and woe. I feel as though my body has been washed up on the shore of Holy Thursday, and I haven’t a clue what to do next. Wash some feet? Build a radio out of coconuts?

Lent is not supposed to be a time of despair. It is, in fact, a glorious time, in which we celebrate what Jesus was willing to do for us: He suffered; we got life eternal. Quite possibly the best deal in history, and we didn’t have to lift a finger. Still, it’s hard not to feel mixed emotions.

Why are we placed in this state of contradiction?
The daffodils say spring but the sky says winter.
We are dying. We are never dying at all.
We are rising like bread; we are falling like rain.
Somehow Good Friday amends into Easter —
a miracle, clearly, but sudden. So sudden.
Do we sit at the tomb till we’re ready? Or
do we wonder at apparitions? Run tell the gospel
or wait for a Pentecost just beyond our line of sight?
Salvation comes at a gallop. I mouth prayers
and hope for the courage to jump on.

Well maybe not this afternoon, but certainly tomorrow. Interesting that this post is the one queued up and ready to go right before Easter.  Christ’s followers felt lost without him.  Their beloved teacher and brother had just died, hung upon the cross like a common criminal.  Imagine what they must have been feeling?

But they just didn’t get it.  Christ was coming back and he was coming back soon.

We are Christ’s Easter people.  How does this effect our lives?

We are free from the legalism that had overtaken so much of the people’s energy and lives.  Yes, we will make mistakes.  Yes, we will sin.  We are, after all, human.  But we don’t have to buy our way back into the temple.  There is no one waiting between us and God with their hand held out waiting for the coin needed to purify us.

No one is standing between us and God.  There is no longer a high priest.  We can approach God directly.  We can speak to Him and listen for his word.

We are his and he is ours and he is there for us all.  We just need to pray and to listen.

Have a Blessed Easter everyone!

–SueBE

Life is hard. There’s no denying it. But during this Easter season, we are reminded that there is proof of the resurrection all around us.

Fact:
Friends will betray you
they will dine beside you
then sell you out for silver.
The road will always be uphill
and the load will nearly break you.
(Others can ease it, briefly,
but they cannot die for you.)
You will taste sweat, blood, bitter
liquid; your body will snap, sag,
breach and be broken. You will die,
ultimately, alone.

Fortunately, friend,
One has gone before
holding hope in his hands like a loaf of bread.
Even as you close your eyes
to all of this, you will open them again.
Like an Easter lily, you will wear white.
Like Easter morning, you will be born.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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