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Did you know the butterfly is a Christian symbol for the resurrection?

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.

There’s something in the air. Easter is almost upon us. But before we get there, let’s take a moment. Let’s remember Christ crucified, Christ beaten and belittled and spat upon. Christ bleeding and gouged and broken. Let’s spend a moment with the deep terribleness of Good Friday.

Why? Because we can’t fully appreciate the joy of Easter without acknowledging the horror of what came before. And because it is a timely reminder of Jesus’ love and understanding for us. We all suffer. We all feel broken and forsaken. It is good to remember that Jesus felt this way too, and that he continues to feel for us in our most hurting moments. Jesus understands pain. He feels it with us, even though we are the ones who caused his pain to begin with. That’s a huge revelation. It is a portrait of forgiveness and love that points the way for our own lives.

I recently watched a video wherein homeless people read mean tweets written about homelessness and homeless people. I watched them sob as they read the cruel, dismissive observations of those more fortunate. This is why we must remember the crucifixion: Because the moment we lose our connection with our fellow human beings, and with their suffering, we become less than human. Jesus sides, and will always side, with those on the fringes, those who have less, those who are ridiculed and dismissed. Before we judge another human being, it would do us well to remember that.

Keep the cross in mind. Watch for the invisible crosses that those around you carry. Allow yourself to feel empathy for them. Help them if you can.

There is no resurrection without the crucifixion. If you can’t embrace the beaten Christ — and the beaten Christ in other people — you cannot, and will not, embrace resurrection. Amid the good tidings of Easter, let’s keep this in mind.

Lent is nearly over. Holy Week is finally coming into view over the crest of the hill. Our slogging days are almost done.

Most of us think of Lent as a trying time. By the time you get to the end of it, you ought to feel pretty beat up — rent in two by anguish for your sinfulness; exhausted — spent — by self-denial. Not me. I’m flying high these days.

The watchwords of Lent (notably, wait and watch) can place us in a state of cautious anxiety. But let’s look at them another way. Wait and watch! A miracle is about to happen! Jesus is about to defeat death with a spectacular roundhouse punch. And then, guess what? We all win. (Say it like Oprah:) You get a resurrection! And you get a resurrection!

It’s as if a complete stranger won the lottery, then offered you a huge cut for no particular reason. We don’t deserve life after death. Nothing we can do in life can make up for our sinfulness. And yet, in the end, we don’t have to do anything. Life eternal is handed to us. All we need do is follow Christ. He is the ultimate generous lottery winner, only he didn’t do it through luck — he did it through humiliation, suffering, blood and death. He did it so we don’t have to.

Let us spend the last remaining days of Lent basking in a love so big, death could not contain it. As the line goes in one of my favorite movies, “I’ve got wings and I’m going to heaven…baby!” Won’t you join me in celebrating?

The winter of Ash Wednesday
becomes the spring of Easter.
And we like, like lilies,
turn our heads
Godward
inexplicably saved
from our greatest foe.
We shall not be cut down,
but grow ceaselessly
in heaven’s green forever.

Death goes down!
Another thrashing
by brave spring buds
and see —
the stone has been rolled away,
wrappings shed
like a lizard’s skin.

There is nothing
to hold Him down.
Simple as the sun,
He rises.

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