As a child, Easter was a main event, mostly involving spring and eating a lot and having my grandparents in town for the weekend. My sister and I put on our new dresses and flowered hats; we wore white gloves to church. Before we piled into the van, my eyes would scan the hallway, seeking the plastic eggs I knew were filled with chocolate, though the egg hunt wasn’t until afternoon.
Jesus was a part of it, but I’d heard the story so many times; resurrection was hardly a surprise. Mostly, I think I was grateful the savior enabled such a holiday—where overnight a new stuffed bunny might show up on the kitchen table in a basket, along with chocolate eggs and turquoise candy-coated malted milk balls.
Perhaps as children, this is all we need; the assurance of newness, joy returning every holiday.
Easter dawned cloudy this year, and the wind felt cold walking from the van into church with my family. I didn’t have a new dress. I didn’t wear white gloves. Afterward, only one grandma came home to celebrate—the other sits in a nursing home barely aware of what’s around her, and my grandpa is years gone.
Despair has still got a rope around my ankle, it seems, and it’s pulling, pulling me down.
I spent this last week in Florida, playing on the beach. My brother and I went swimming on a day when the waves were high, and it was joyous to ride them up and down, effortlessly floating on the sea’s boundless momentum.
But coming into shore, the waves knocked me down with force and dragged my body across the sand. Every time I stood up, I was slammed back down until I was bleeding from the sand and broken shells.
I thought, Oh, this feels familiar.
This isn’t how I thought I would feel at the back half of 22–like I am fighting to see anything good in the world.
Time is both a blessing and a curse. People say that time heals, or at the very least, it lessens hurt, but in good times, time seems to sweep in only to steal away joy.
The Psalmist notes,
As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more. (Psalm 103.15-16)
So it is with seasons of joy here on earth; they come and are gone. Time stops for no one.
It seems the joys in life are few and the pain and boredom plenty. I’ve had seasons when every day seemed bright and blooming. But they didn’t stay, and they left me feeling cold and empty. Admittedly, I am one who dislikes change and am easily driven toward despair, but lately I’ve felt like life is a meaningless string of days I am growing tired of. What’s the point of reaching a better place, if any future days of joy are just as likely to be ripped away?
It felt like each of your dreams died in the winter,
buried deep beneath frozen earth, and you stood alone
in the cold til you forgot what they looked like.
A part of you stopped believing that anything means anything.
We are just puppets here in God’s great game. We play our roles and fall in love or fall apart,
and all the while the world’s a burning explosion. Stare deeply into your glass of wine.
There are no answers.
Yet, even yet, snowflakes waltz from the grey sky—old shroud of a dead day,
weeping new fractals that spin in sheer exuberance, etching a message into the air:
the world dances on an axis of grace, and even in these frigid moments lives beauty.