by Peter Traben Haas
During Lent, I’ve been reading from the Letters of Emily Dickenson – that most original voice of American poetry. Though she never left her hometown, her vision and depth of understanding was universal. I was struck by several of her lines. She has given me words to express some of the profundity I experience during Holy Week. Here are few samples:
As Holy Week approaches, I have been reflecting upon my Lenten Journey, aware of the immense blessings of being human. Sometimes through our fasting, or through giving up some of life’s good things, we are reminded just how sweet the gift of life is. Emily has a way of encouraging us not to forget the blessings of life, even if life might be difficult: “I hope that nothing pains you except the pang of life, sweeter to bear than to omit.”
During Holy Week, many of will gather with our church families on both Maundy Thursday and Good Friday in beloved Sanctuaries to worship and partake in the drama of Jesus’ life and passion. It is important to remember that Jesus’ death was an entering into the fullness of the human experience, shadowed as it is by sickness, suffering and ultimately death. We do not worship a Lord who avoided us. We worship a Lord who joined us to the very depths of our human suffering.
In light of that, I was blessed to read Emily’s own experience of the human condition, and the painful presence of death in her life. Emily wrote this to her friend James Clark, regarding her grief for a friend’s death, “her dying feels to me like many kinds of cold – at times electric, at times benumbing, – then a trackless waste of love has never trod…” It is easy to feel this way, and yet this Holy Week we celebrate that Love has indeed trod this way, all the way to the cross and beyond. A love that won’t let us go, trodding with us onward into eternity.
As Lent moves through the chill of late winter into the vibrancy of early spring, it seems to be the perfect stage upon which the church is invited to remember and celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord from the tomb of darkness and death into the garden of light and life.
Emily again captures something of the mystery of our journey from the power of sin into the glory of heaven with her lines to a friend who had sent her springtime flowers: “Expulsion from Eden grows indistinct in the presence of flowers so blissful, and with no disrespect to Genesis, Paradise remains.” Resurrection blooms the flower plucked in the Garden. Resurrection answers the question lost in Eden. The Resurrection of Jesus points the way to return us to paradise, both here and there, now and then. Paradise does remain because it has been reclaimed through Christ’s death and Resurrection.
I hope you can join others for worship on Easter Sunday morning. Join others to remember this gift of life and seek to experience it ever more deeply so to be living vessels of the Resurrection life of Jesus conveyed to each of us as the community of Christ by his Spirit. Christians all around the world will journey through Holy week together, not just to celebrate what Jesus did for us long ago, but to experience the Whole Life that is gained through the events of that ancient Holy Week.
All love in Christ, through the silence.
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A Resource of ContemplativeChristians.com
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