Sunday, April 8, 2012

2012.04.08 Eastering

Eastering is a simple spiritual practice. It may be connected to specific religious persuasions or not, even though Easter is an official Christian holy day celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ as recorded in the gospels of the New Testament.

It is important to note that Jesus did NOT raise himself. God raised him into new life. Resurrection is not a self-help program. It is a faith issue, and the opposite of faith is certitude not doubt.

Some experiences are just too true not to doubt.

The act of resurrection is not actually described. No one was there. Resurrection is assumed from post-resurrection accounts, sitings if you will. All report profound spiritual experiences, visions of Jesus as a spirit-person, that amazed and transformed them from the inside out—completely.

The resurrected Jesus was not a ghost and yet not quite a biologically alive person either. St. Paul tried to describe a resurrection body and became all tangled up in inadequate language.

Suffice it to say that Jesus made a snap appearance, bestowed the gift of his peace, a word of hope, maybe a meal, then gone. Poof. That is enough for me to hang my hat on.

My favorite siting is the one described in John’s gospel in which Mary Magdalene is grieving and weeping as she gazes into the dark emptiness of a tomb/grave looking for Jesus. Then she heard her name called, looked away from death and stared life in the face. Christ stood there and of course, when she heard the sound of her own name, she recognized him and rushed toward him and he stopped her, saying “Don’t touch me!” Go and tell the others.

She was sent away, on her own but with friends. But, but....wait! I need more.

You all know how difficult it is to try to describe to anyone else your spiritual experience—and we all have such experiences. And you all know how perfectly cherished it is to you and how true. You have finally to trust it yourself and tell it whenever you can to whomever will listen.

Someone once advised keeping expectation lower than a toad’s instep. You can’t push truth like an agenda. And for christ’s sake be humble and modest about it. You’re not unique and probably not any more of a mystic than many others with like experiences. Color yourself lucky, not special.

Resurrection is after all a bit of a disappointment. You can’t have it all back the way it was. Nothing will ever be the same. Death is certain. What now?

I suggest eastering. This can even be a self-help effort! for me it takes effort and energy an acceptance of failure. I try to look through things and people to see life within the apparent, surface life. I know when I find it because it will unexpectedly lift my spirits. And I always feel afraid to share it for fear I’m being spiritually gooey or found foolish. I bow to my ego more than I’d like.

Eastering means seeing the good within the evil without denying the evil. I get “eastered” more than I “easter.”

A few recent examples that “eastered” me..............
President Obama made a public statement of condolence to the family of the recently murdered young and innocent hoodied teen, Trayvon Martin. That’s pro forma politics. Easterish was that he said, “If I had a son he would look like Trayvon.”

A friend in an Episcopal parish told me she was upset about the “war on women” and the church that continued to use exclusive language, proclaiming an exclusively male deity. That wasn’t unusual. What was easterish was that she confronted her priest about the Easter service stationery logo that read, HE is risen. She told him it it should say CHRIST, or even the Lord. Just NOT HE.

A grand daughter Isabella, 12, visited recently and seemed as enthralled with reading as with mall shopping!! She was reading book two of the “Hunger Games” trilogy. I asked her about the violence and young people fighting each other to the death for no reason. “Oh Grammy, there is no point to dying unless it’s for something much more important.” Then she told me what that was, adding that the book was clearer about the vision than the movie. She eastered me.

The surprise arrival of an eastering note from a gracious woman letting me know that some words I’d said had transformed her heart. Not my words but God’s Word.

A conversation between two five year olds, one a beloved grandson, on their way to school this week. Thomas: "Ella, I will miss you this weekend because I am going to Connecticut to see my Nana for Easter." Ella: "Thomas, I will never, ever forget you and I will miss you too." (Easy to see why Jesus pointed to children as examples of what we must be like to enter the kingdom of God. Incidentally, even the tantrum-ish and difficult children are kingdom material. )

The cover of this week’s Newsweek the lead story headlined with “Forget the Church. Follow Jesus.” Andrew Sullivan has many wise insights. Easter for me is that he is a writer and commentator, a Roman Catholic who identifies himself as, yes, a conservative. The other side!!! Eeeek.............and Easter!

Easter yourself, your neighbors and, yes, God.