Christ is Risen! Christ is risen indeed!
The culmination of the explosion of colors–Eastertide, six weeks of celebration! And Matisse expresses the melange of hues and tints in such varied ways. And so it is with Easter Day when we read in the gospels that the attending. loving followers of Jesus, left the tomb “afraid yet filled with joy.” (Matthew-NIV)
According to the SALT reflection guide for the holy season, Matisse wasn’t explicitly religious, but his commentary was full of spiritual reflection: In my own way I have always sung the glory of God and creation, he says. He writes from a life filled with promise and hardship both, the joy and the sorrow, the success and the defeat, the gift and the loss. And that is the life we re-enter this Easter season–paradoxical, uncharted, light and dark. Like the women leaving the tomb, I am also “afraid yet filled wih joy.”
So many things seem frightening in the world around me, Even a cursory scanning of the daily news can send my blood pressure soaring. I continue to lose people, old touchstones and familiar ways of doing things. I can become anxious, as Wendell Berry notes, in fear of what my life my children’s life might be. Certainly the beloved ones of the risen Christ had no idea what would lie before them in the days ahead. So Easter doesn’t mean an erasure of everything scary, evil or problematic.
However, Easter is a celebration that alongside and above the fear, I can be filled with joy! Anne Sexton writes, There is joy is all! and it is true! She names the small but essential components of ordinary life, and its joy emanating from them, and lead her into a great prayer of thanksgiving. It is my practice to do this daily: the iris, the rose, the dog, the coffee, the phone call, the note in the mail, the text from my granddaughter, tha care that my spouse gives me daily, the new idea popping up. But Easter joy goes beyond that. I have learned from wise teachers that Easter tells us as humans that there are no final defeats. Death is not the last word. As I age this reality is more and more comforting: my living and loving will not be for nothing. There is joy in being a human, in living a life, in loving another, in walking with the Mystery we call God!
These next weeks of Eastertide I am rejoicing, with as many colors as I can perceive, right alongside the fear, the horror of the real in political spheres, the unknown that still looms. Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed.