This year, because independently cycling calendars do occasionally coincide, the Jewish and Christian faith communities have the relatively unusual synchronicity of Passover falling in the week before Easter (at the time it fell prior to Jesus’ actual death), and both the Eastern and the Western branches of the Christian Church celebrating Easter on the same Sunday (April 20) rather than the more usual one week, or two weeks or (sometimes) five weeks apart. As a result of this synchronicity, Jerusalem was filled this year simultaneously with the chaotic crush of pilgrims from all three of the religious traditions that share common scripture and common faith ancestors.
But this same cluster of days (April 15 – 20) also hold recent memories of pain and horror, at least in the United States. In Colorado, 2014 marks the 15th anniversary of the Columbine shooting. In Massachusetts, the people of Boston are preparing for the first running of the Marathon since the horrific bombings last year. April 19th was the 19th anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing. By coincidence, April 20th was also the day the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico.
So how do we balance the emotional freight of this time? If we are Jewish or Christian, do we ignore the master stories of freedom and resurrection, to relive emotionally the grief of recent loss? Do we deny the sorrow and fear of (recent) terrifying events to be relentlessly focused on (a long-passed) glory and miracle? Regardless of our spiritual traditions, do we choose to talk about courage? Or vengeance? Do we choose blame? Or forgiveness? Do we throw up our hands in despair? Or try to distract ourselves with a movie, a round of golf, a barbecue, a drink?
Perhaps it depends on how we regard time. Is time a finite resource that we hoard as closely as we can, and spend as grudgingly as we must? Or is time an abundant and life-giving fellow creature, elastic and spacious? Must a moment be one thing and one thing only? Or can a moment hold both grace and horror, both courage and fear, both violence and love? Is meaning found in a closely held, capital-T Truth? Or can meaning shimmer and shift as new light and new experience bring perspective and wisdom?
And can we allow ourselves to dance with ambiguity? Can we welcome the changes time brings? Can we see the blessing, accept the invitation, open to the transformation?
As one who was born smack in the middle of the Boomer generation, I would observe that I don’t think we Baby-Boomers are particularly deft at navigating the currents of time. I don’t think we are very gracious about living into the final third of our lives. I would suggest that the epidemic use of botox and tummy-tucks and liposuction is not a “neutral value” historical blip. I would suggest that it is a symptom of an inability to risk being in relationship with time rather than trying to be in control of time. And I would suggest that the more desperate our desire to control time, the more rigid each moment becomes: the smaller and narrower and scarcer our days appear to us, the more we feel the need to choose grief or joy, hope or despair, tragedy or grace.
So, on this Easter evening, I find myself wondering if we would be healthier and happier if we let go and allowed time to breathe. I am wondering if we might find our lives richer and deeper if we were willing to reconcile ourselves to the flow of time, and allow time to reconcile us to the reality that we really are much more multilayered than we give ourselves credit for. If we accepted our own glorious messiness, maybe we wouldn’t need to defend out images quite so fiercely, and we could love ourselves – just as we are – much more fully…which (to come full-circle) sounds like liberation from slavery and resurrection from death to me.
Text © 2014, Andrea La Sonde Anastos
Photo © 2013, Immram Chara, LLC