I was deeply disappointed last Sunday, Easter Day, when I was felled by a vicious 5 day cold that knocked me so flat that, for my sake and the welfare of the community I could neither join a worshiping congregation, nor serve a festive dinner to my family. All the elements of Easter baskets are lying unopened in the grocery bag, the cards are unwritten, and the one lily is languishing. I became very heartened, however, when I realized that in the liturgical calendar in some traditions Eastertide is 50 days, not just One Big Day! So I have time, time to celebrate and rejoice, time to ponder the gospel accounts of the post-Resurrection accounts of Jesus life with his friends, and especially to notice where Easter is happening, where new life is springing forth, where the signs of hope and Light are evident for the fist time or recurring again.
The seasoning of Easter keeps coming day after day even in this first week after the celebration day. I have heard a story of someone completely bereft who suddenly received comfort after it seemed like there was no comfort to be had. I witnessed hope and energy take root in one who had been mired in despair for months, but who now had a sense of agency and power to keep moving toward hope. I was present when a group of friends gathered, bringing with them the predictable crises of their separate lives, and as they reflected on the love demonstrated in resurrection and the promise of new life, the joy and grace between them deepened, widened and hope was palpable, despite the incessant toll of Awful Things in the lives of our world.
So I am looking around for the Season of Easter with vigilance and scrutiny during this Eastertide, these remaining 44 days. I have already heard of a new job, a mended friendship, a lifting of dullness, an easing of conflict, and I am witnessing acts of mercy and justice all around me in the neighborhood, in the Church and in the world.
So I ask how I can contribute to this new life that we celebrated last Sunday. Paying attention is my primary practice–the the salesperson the barrista, the server, the mail carrier. Each of them is worthy of receiving the Light of Easter, even if it is just a warm and attentive exchange over business. I am also aware that there are places that need care where I must to be present–in person, by phone or by e-mail; all I have to bring is my presence and my hope. To give advice is not nearly as alive and joyful an Easter flavor as it is to show up in some way. I am also hoping to stretch out to give what the Jewish traditions calls mitzvahs, those acts of hospitality and grace in which there is no possibility of payback or reciprocity. I feel as if the seasoning in my own heart in celebrating Easter once again replenishes me for that kind of extension and effort.
My garden, blooming to beat the band, with new surprises every morning, is the tangible prompt to me to be receiving and giving the seasoning of Easter right now. Every morning I look for a new blossom! In our journey the dying is not the last word; there is new life after death. And as long as I am alive, whether or not I can get to the Big Band celebrations of Easter Day or not, I can use these days of Eastertide to take in the glory and the power of Christ’s resurrection, and then to sprinkle and spice all these gifts that new life brings–love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, and gentleness–while I do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with the Risen One.