This is my favorite time of the year, next to baseball season. It is a time of new beginnings, chocolate bunny ears, longer days and bizarre weather patterns. Oh yeah, I forgot, Easter season as well, silly me. For Easter to happen, Good Friday had to happen. Change involves ending one thing and staring something new. Sometimes there is pain involved. I’m pretty sure that’s how it works. For me, it was simple, stop a destructive using pattern of living and begin real living living. Changing course wasn’t easy, it isn’t easy today and tomorrow, probably won’t be easy either. But good change is never easy, is it? I long to hold onto what I am doing, unhealthy as it may be, and get angry when I am pushed to change the unhealthy behavior. I may even make a sign and parade around with it, just to let you know I don’t want to change. I don’t know what’s down the road. I can’t see it yet. But from my experience once I make the decision to change the change itself becomes a bit easier as each day turns into a week, turns into a month and what’s down the road becomes clearer and clearer.
I use this time after the 40 days of Lent, to re-evaluate where I have been and where I am going in my life. Why don’t I do it on January 1st or on my birthday, you say? Or even during Lent? I don’t know. The end of Lent and the beginning of the Easter season to me is the better time, Spring and all. I don’t know exactly why this is so, it just is. There are many cross roads I consider as these days move forward. The decisions I make now, will affect unknown things to come. I can only make those decisions away from the noises of Christmas and New Years or the celebration of another year of me on this planet. I need to have faith in myself and a belief that sometimes the unexpected can break through the noise. The process begins in silence.
Clearing my mind of all the “what if’s” is a good start. You know all those, “what if I was smarter?”, or “what if this doesn’t work out?”, or “what if I can’t manage it?”, or “what if I was younger?”, and “what if I’m wrong?” that rattle around in my head throwing up road-blocks so I don’t take the risk. Faith is a funny thing, on the one hand it demands a leap and on the other it invites a leap. I suppose being caught in-between the demand/invite and the leap itself can cause inaction, and has. At that point, regret sets in and paralyzes me even more. So whats the answer? I need to believe even though it doesn’t seem rational. I use as an the Easter story of Mary Magdalen as an example of belief.
Rather than go into the history and mythology of Mary (all the more muddied by Dan Brown), I want to focus on what she did on that first Easter Sunday morning. In spite of what Bill Maher says about Religion, Christianity is a world-wide phenomenon based solely on the belief that a man who was executed by the Romans rose from the dead, fully human and fully alive. If he did not rise then the faith wouldn’t make sense. It would be just another good humanistic philosophy. Think about this irrational event for a moment. If it were not true, then, I believe, the faith would have died out a long time ago. It does not compute. It has been around for a few thousand years, so there must be something to it.Thousands of people would not have sacrificed their lives rather than not believe in this very fact. And it all started with what I can only describe as the amazing proclamation by Mary Magdalen. The empty tomb was discovered by a woman who became the first witness to the world. Why is this amazing? Outside of the Book of Judges, Deborah, and the Book of Ruth, Ruth, not many women in scripture have been in the position to actually help change the world for 2 millennium. Historically women were not credible witnesses in legal hearings. Why wasn’t the empty tomb discovered by Peter or John? I’m not sure, but I am guessing that this extraordinary news was left to the least of the least, Mary Magdalene because that is what faith is; believing in the empirically unbelievable. The leap.
I’m not putting down women, just looking at ancient and recent history’s attitude toward women. (Including Rush’s). The Gospel writers, especially Mark, focus on this as a subtle reminder that revelation, belief and a way forward come in the least likely of places. Whispers of the spirit can be found under a bodhi tree (Siddhartha Gautama) or the Cardoner River (Ignatius). At first, in John’s Gospel Mary is distressed when she tells the disciples “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” (Jn 20:2). Then later, when she returns, she is confronted by Jesus who asks her why she is crying, then utters her name “Mary” (Jn 20:16). She gets it. She doesn’t ask, “How did you do that?” or “What’s the trick?” No, on faith she simply replies, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher) (Jn 20:16). She was open to the whisper of the Spirit and took the leap.
What then am I to do 2000 years down the road? I will work on my faltering faith on a daily basis. I will trust my heart more and balance what I know with what I don’t know. I will know that whatever decisions I make, come from a good place. All though the decisions I make may not be perfect they will be, as the Irish say, “Good enough” right now. And as for the Giants? Well, miracles do happen,prayer is powerful and hope is a great convincer.
And so it goes…