“Mom, the chicks have got to go,” my daughter said. “It’s like having Christmas lights up in March.” This is her first time back home since Easter weekend.
The bunnies and chicks and eggs are still out at my house, along with the crosses and crowns. That’s not because I have been busy traveling or packing and unpacking or partying - all of which I have been doing. The Easter decorations are still out on purpose. Easter is no longer a Sunday I celebrate. It’s a season: Eastertide.
In an attempt to be more mindful of the liturgical season in my daily life, I adopted an Advent practice and then a Lenten practice this year. When Easter Sunday arrived, I decided I wanted a specific practice for Eastertide, the season from Easter Day until Pentecost - which this year falls on June 4th. As often happens when I pray a question, the answer came to me as lyrics, Keep practicing resurrection. During Advent, I mentioned Carrie Newcomer’s song, “Lean In Toward The Light, ” emphasizing the title. Keep practicing resurrection is another line from that same song.
Keep practicing resurrection? How does one do that?
The obvious and initial answer was celebration. Practice celebration! Eat, drink, sing and dance! Keep the bunnies and eggs on the table. Eat pastel M&Ms! Bring flowers into the house. Plant something new in the garden. Pay attention to new life anywhere I find it.
Three commencement ceremonies in three days is certainly a way to celebrate new beginnings.
Our life has been full of celebration lately with our two children graduating in the same weekend: our son with MBA and JD degrees, our daughter with her Bachelor of Arts.
We stood through “Pomp and Circumstance” and sat through baccalaureate and commencement speeches. We had dinners, parties, toasts, and tearful good-byes. I snapped 372 pictures between Friday and Tuesday.
We came home and unloaded an apartment from a U Haul trailer into our family room and within a day, I was helping a friend prepare her new home for celebrating her son’s wedding and the next day celebrating the birthday, state golf championship, and high school graduation of another young friend.
I woke in the middle of the night recently with the phrase "Life is Celebration" floating through my mind - along with the song, “Love and Mercy” by Beach Boys founder, Brian Wilson. I couldn’t figure the connection between the two and fell back asleep, but the next morning I remembered the moment and the song kept singing in my head.
During Eastertide I have held a newborn and kept a friend’s young children. I took up a practice of daily dancing - better for the body than ceaseless chocolate and champagne Somedays my dancing consists of shaking my shoulders while I’m driving my car, or adding a few moves to the background music during my yoga practice. It’s not always pretty nor for the public to see, but I’m dancing my way through Eastertide.
As I pondered the context of practicing resurrection I remembered Newcomer’s image of leaning toward the light. The cave in the side of the mountain where they buried Jesus was death-dark, but there must have been a shard of light around that stone.
How could I lean toward light as a way to practice resurrection? When I wake up in the dark places, in the unknowns of my life, I can choose to look for a crack, an opening, no matter how small the shard of light may be. The reminders to hope are everywhere. A green shoot breaks through the bulb and up through the cold winter ground. As spring arrives in Alabama with warm days and high pollen counts, the gray-brown branches and black dirt are exploding with green. All nature sings of practicing resurrection.
I recently said something I wished I hadn’t. (That happens frequently with me.) I agonized for a few days, wanting to confess that I knew my sin to all who heard it, then realizing what I really wanted was to clean up my tarnished image of myself and have others grant me absolution, or at me I wasn’t all that bad, maybe even admire me for my sensitivity. The problem, you see, is much more insidious than my big mouth. After wrestling through it and getting to the real issue, accepting forgiveness and forgiving myself, I realized I’d been given yet another way to practice resurrection: shake off the dust of the messes I make and walk into the mercy of a new day. Love and Mercy that’s what you need tonight. Thank you, Brian Wilson.
We’ve had some long days recently. One child had two graduation ceremonies in the same day, with a party in between, and then we drove two hours late at night so we could get a head start and be three states away the next afternoon in time for another celebration as the other’s child’s graduation festivities began. We fell into bed exhausted each night between those 372 pictures I snapped. We woke the next morning with breath and sight to go again. Sleeping and waking - inhaling and exhaling - practicing resurrection.
To practice resurrection is to dance before the party starts, on the day when you can’t find your hope. Let your body inform your mind and heart of what is true. Leave the bunnies out to say that on this ordinary rainy spring day, there is a power that brings life from death, light that dispels darkness, green deep inside the gray-brown and enough love and mercy for whatever you’ve done and whatever lies ahead.
Life on the other side of the darkness is celebration. The lyrics to “Love and Mercy” don’t offer much, except this phrase, Love and Mercy that’s what you need tonight. Perhaps that is all we need all the time.
Keep practicing resurrection.