This morning, as I listen to the thunder and rain of a predicted weather front, I wonder at the sounds. I notice a stark contrast between the chaotic force of the thunder overhead and the gentleness of the rain against the window. One sound is threatening; the other, reassuring. Both are of the same weather pattern.
I think of the journey to Easter and all it holds within it. The triumphant cheering of Palm Sunday and the declaration of adoration. I think of the bittersweet tenderness of a dinner party where Jesus lifts up the cup of encouragement and reassurance to the motley crew he loved so dearly, all the while knowing of imminent betrayal. What contrast; Jesus’ clear understanding of his purpose; the betrayer’s blind misunderstanding of his.
I think of Jesus in the garden, agonizing over what was to come; the calm beauty of the evening holding the stormy torment of his heart. Oh, some say he was never afraid; being Divine and all. But, also fully human, he would be terrified at what he knew was coming. We humans are created with a strong will to live. To willingly let go of it is counter to every instinct we have been given. So, yes, there was struggle and conflict in the garden.
I think of the arrest of Jesus, and Peter’s brash show of bravado in cutting off the ear of the perceived foe. This aggressive momentary engagement stands in sharp contrast to his sleepy stupor just minutes before when asked to stay awake and stand watch. Although, he now stands fully awake and ready for battle, he only proves his continued unconsciousness to the message of Jesus. To love the neighbor before him; no matter what. And, although he is eager to maim, Jesus continues to heal, even the ear of the one who reaches to him in harm.
I think of that fateful Friday afternoon. Jesus, stripped, beaten, humiliated and hung on a cross to die. He should’ve been terrified. Instead he is full of resolve. He should be filled with contempt and condemnation for the injustice done to him. Instead, he assures forgiveness to a criminal. He should save his own life. Instead, he gives it freely.
As the thunder outside subsides, I’m struck by the deafening quiet it leaves behind. I think about the excruciating silence that held the followers of Jesus in the aftermath of his death. I remember the times I have experienced such grief in my own losses. I think about the light of the morning sun as it shines down on Mary that bright early morning as she, embraced by the darkness of grief, made her way to the tomb. She thought she was approaching death; she was met with the wonder of life. She thought this was the end; it was only the beginning.
Jesus’s death on the cross did not eradicate death. It puts death in its proper place; as the threshold to new life. That is the paradox of Easter, that Jesus called his disciples to, and calls still to us today. If I want to live the life being offered, I must die to the things that are holding me back. Worry. Negativity. Hatred. Control. Each of us have our own deaths to die; in order to live.
May this Lenten season be, for you, a time of remembering you to a Love that holds you now. And holds you forever.