I write to you again from the same spot as week one, in my apartment here at 65 Quai d’Orsay. Except what initially felt a little like a reprieve or refiguring from the busyness of the daily grind has transformed into a “new normal.” This is not a “normal” I would have chosen or one that I enjoy (though I have been enjoying the occasional afternoon nap), according to President Macron it is the new reality until at least May 11. I wouldn’t say I was terribly surprised by this announcement but coming just one day after the first Sunday in Eastertide I will admit it kind of took the wind out of my sails.
I have been celebrating Easter with my family and friends for as long as I can remember and have never really struggled with living into resurrection joy until this year. I was able to celebrate on Sunday, but since then it has been difficult for me to live into that hope and joy. This was pretty difficult for me because as a seminarian and ministry intern, I internally feel like there is a sort of expectation for me to not feel this way because it is my job to facilitate worship that coincides with the Church calendar.
However, just yesterday when I was going through the scriptures looking for inspiration or encouragement I came across Luke 24:13-35 (I encourage you to give it a read before reading the rest of this post) and felt like it was speaking directly to me. This passage really stuck out to me as I was trying to figure out what I wanted to say today because in this passage it is after Jesus has resurrected from the dead, and theologically speaking, death is defeated, the Son of Man is raised, and there is reason for tremendous Hope. Yet, even still, these disciples are sad. They are so consumed by grief and loneliness, as walk and talk with one another that even though they have heard the Good News from the Mary’s, Joanna, and the other women, they just can’t believe it yet.
In a “normal” year I would likely take this passage as an opportunity to talk about the importance of listening to women (especially in this #metoo era) but right now I can really empathize with these disciples who can’t yet believe in the resurrection. I want to believe, and I want to really live into that Easter Hope, but it’s just hard to do right now…
It’s also interesting that Jesus came to them on the road and kept them from recognizing him, but he still encouraged and taught them from the scriptures about the Hope they have in Jesus. And even though the disciples were unable to believe yet, they found his teaching so compelling they wanted him to stay with them. Which is curious to me because from their perspective, why would they want to listen to this stranger teach them about the almost-messiah who just recently died? Could it be that they could not have the hope or belief in themselves because of the trauma of the cross but felt it in the teachings of this stranger? Could it be that in that moment, they could only rely on the faith of others because their own grief was too strong? Jesus does call them “slow of heart” but doesn’t really rebuke their disbelief here. Instead, just teaches them about the prophecies, and help to cultivate hope and belief in them. And finally, when they are able to sit, and eat together, and he breaks the bread their eyes are opened. And they realize that Jesus was with them the whole time and are able to rejoice!
What this passage is teaching me is that sometimes the conditions of the present moment make it difficult to rejoice with Easter hope, and Resurrection joy, but that’s okay. We can be sad like these disciples were sad, we can mourn the losses and loneliness we experience because maybe that’s all we have the capacity to do right now. But in the midst of the mourning, and the journey in lonely grief Jesus was still with the disciples. Even if we can’t believe it right now for ourselves that’s totally fine. There will come a day, maybe next month, maybe post-corona, or maybe later still that your ability to hope and believe will be restored. And when that happens maybe you’ll be able to see that Jesus was with you the whole time, teaching and guiding you.
Right now, many of us are on the road to Emmaus. We are stricken with grief, and unable to hope or believe. But none-the-less the Risen Christ is WITH US. This story has made me feel affirmed that it’s okay not to feel very “Eastery” because Easter is not about how I feel, and it’s a reminder that even when I don’t feel it, Christ is Risen, and Christ is with me.
In the spirit of this little devotional/blog I want to encourage you to participate in the activity that Pastor Allison created as part of the children’s worship for the Easter sunrise service. Even though this little exercise was designed with children in mind, I think it can serve as a powerful reminder, that even though this Easter happens in the midst of uncertainty and grief, the hope of Christ still reigns.
Starting at 4:35
I also encourage you to extend grace to yourself in this time. Even though we have been kind of forced to slow down our lives recently, I have been feeling the pressure to DO a lot of things. Things for myself, things for others, things that are good, but none-the-less I have felt pressure to DO a lot. While I am often glad after I have done something that I want to, I think having grace to let some of those things go is a good practice. Something that has been helpful to me is making a list of three things I would like to accomplish in a day, and beyond that everything else is a bonus.
My three things often consist of 1. Working out or just being active in some way 2. One thing for work 3. Maybe making myself a good meal or meditation or something like that.
One thing that I have made an intentional effort to do instead of spending my free time watching TV or on my phone, to read more. For some reason reading has been a pretty difficult practice for me lately, but I forced myself to find a good book that I knew I would like and just sit in the sun and read. It has been wonderful because it is relaxing, feels productive, and instead of making me feel gross like TV often does, make me feel refreshed.
However, I do still enjoy surfing the internet for fun videos and I came across this guy who raps to Dr. Seuss book using Dr. Dre beats, and it's wonderful. Here is Fox in Sox.