It is Easter Monday, and as intensely as I participated in the 40 days of Lent and the journey of Holy Week, I am relieved and delighted to be here in Eastertide. It is not as if there are great celebrations of faith in front of me, but I feel as if if I am entering in a spacious place with room enough to observe in quiet the ways that the resurrection keeps happening in the world, in the Church and in me.
I am grateful for waking up to a silent morning, with only the accompaniment of birds. No school buses or trucks or planes seem to be racing around in my neighborhood yet. I muse on my favorite Easter scene in John 20, when Mary come to the place where Jesus has been lovingly buried, to ponder, to wonder, to imagine what what might come next. There are tears and remembering, but then suddenly there are angels–always carrying a sacred message–who extend compassion to her by asking where her tears come from. I often wonder where my tears come from–why am I weeping? Certainly the world presents enough cause for tears on a daily basis, and my heart weeps more often than my eyes do–for innocent families left bereft because of the cruelty or torment from others; for the ravages of wars on targeted populations because of their faith or race or gender; for the earth gone dry here in my home state because of rampant greed. However, it is those moments when by surprise my eyes are suddenly filled with tears that I ponder in this morning quiet–the music that throws me back to a time when I was more wide-eyed and eager, an observation of a grandchild who is overcoming great obstacles, or a realization that I am in the last third of my life with opportunities come and gone. What am I being given a chance to see through my tears in this Eastertide?
Mary gets to see Jesus. She doesn’t recognize him at first; he seems ordinary, utilitarian, unrelated to the drama in which she has been living this last week. However, when he speaks her name into that silent beauty of morning, she recognizes that One whom her heart loves. Yet the relationship has undergone a transformation; their love for each other will take a new shape. Jesus tells her he is returning to God, she will now be about the business of recognizing the face of Jesus in everyone she meets and loving that particular one because she and he bear the image of God in their particular person. With Easter we don’t view people from a human point of view any more; we see them as new creatures, in the words of Thomas Merton, “shining like the sun.”
So I muse on those I expect to see this first week of Easter–those with whom I sit in spiritual direction–will I recognize the sun shining in them? my neighbors with whom I share the welfare of the block and the city? my family who bring laughter and tears into my life? my friends in faith who worry and churn about the state of the Church and living in a pluralistic world? How will I be willing to look at those in our country and our world who seem bent on muddying the waters, striking fear and anxiety in the populace, spewing inanities and vilification all around? Will I be willing to see the face of God in them?
I am grateful this early morning for the space to sit quietly with this question, and to pray this prayer, Open my eyes (again) that I would see Your face. Show me the new creation that you love, and empower me to love the ways you do. In the name of the Risen One, Amen.