We had a happy Easter here - David surprised us by coming home for the weekend, and we hosted family for dinner. I hope your weekend was equally happy.
I've recently been blessed by a series of letters from the pastor of Grace Episcopal church on Bainbridge Island; they have enriched the Easter season for me. I have been thinking a lot about the events of Holy Week, and what Jesus' words and actions mean - what they meant for his time, and what they mean for me, in my time.
In the last 24 hours, many sparks of inspiration have flown. Today, this appeared in one of my devotionals:
" 'Do not be afraid.'"These words were spoken to the shepherds at the beginning of Jesus' life, and they are spoken to the women at the tomb, first by the angel and then by Jesus himself. Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid of life in all its beauty and all its messiness; do not be afraid of death in all its many disguises - perhaps the death of a beloved friend or family member, the death of a dream or the overwhelming deaths that come as a result of disaster or war. We live in a Good Friday world, and yet we proclaim that God's love is bigger than any grim, bleak, terrible thing the Good Friday world can throw at us. The diagnosis, the heartbreak, the tornado, even the funeral, is not the last word."Fill us with the hope, courage and faith of Easter." - Jeanne Lischer, A Daily Spiritual Seed
And from Richard Rohr:
"Seek joy in God and peace within yourself; seek to rest in the good, the true, and the beautiful. It will be the only resting place that will also allow you to hear and bear the darkness."
Last night, on the PBS series, "Call the Midwife," an accident resulted the death of a young man, and as the characters grappled with their grief, I caught this line - perhaps I'm misquoting it, but the gist was: "God is not in the events, but in the response to them."
And this morning, at the beginning of yoga class, our instructor read the following excerpt from an article in Sun Magazine. It's part of an interview with author Barbara Kingsolver:
"There’s something I have said so often to my children that now they chant it back to me: 'You can do hard things.' I sent my kids to a Montessori preschool, and thank heavens I did, because most of what I learned about parenting came from those wonderful Montessori teachers. They straightened me out about self-esteem. There’s this myth that self-esteem comes from making everything easy for your children and making sure they never fail. If they never encounter hardship or conflict, the logic goes, they’ll never feel bad about themselves. Well, that’s ridiculous. That’s not even a human life.
"Kids learn self-esteem from mastering difficult tasks. It’s as simple as that. The Montessori teachers told me to put my two-year-old on a stool and give her the bread, give her the peanut butter, give her the knife — a blunt knife — and let her make that sandwich and get peanut butter all over the place, because when she’s done, she’ll feel like a million bucks. I thought that was brilliant...When a task was difficult, that’s when I would tell them, 'You can do hard things.' Both of them have told me they still say to themselves, 'I can do hard things.' It helps them feel good about who they are, not just after they’ve finished, but while they’re engaged in the process."
All of these words of wisdom help to remind me that life is not "wrong" when hard things happen. Hard things are a natural part of life, and as we rise to meet them, we grow; we grow stronger and more flexible, more mature and useful.
The greatest growth in my life has come from the hardest things. This does not necessarily mean that I enjoy the difficulties, but as my yoga teacher reminded us, we can show up, and practice - gently, willingly, courageously (and sometimes humorously) do our best.
And then, tonight, I saw this.
This article (and video) took me back to the Easter love of God, of Jesus.
Yes, we can do hard things.