I’d had something else planned altogether. A different hearthoughts, different theme.
But then a dear friend sent this to me via Facebook:
“Perfect!” I thought. “Perfect for this season.”
This time of year, both Christians and Jews are sort of in post-season. Easter has happened, as has Passover. In the Jewish experience, the jubilation of freedom from Pharaoh soon gives way to the reality of life in a wilderness. The realization that getting free is one thing, but being free? Not a clue how to do that! Pretty soon that golden calf — which is nothing more than the worship of the familiar — looks mighty good.
And it doesn’t seem any easier for Christians. Yes, Jesus rose that Sunday — but the next day was still Monday morning! The world didn’t rise with him; there were still lots of doubts and hardships and questions — not to mention the little matter of him “returning to the Father.” Soon enough the divisions would set in, the sides, the quarrelling.
Easter and Passover can set the bar pretty high. It can be easy to begin to feel . . . less than adequate to the alleluia’s and the deyanu’s. “It would have been enough,“ we sing at Seder; “our triumphant holy day,” the organ blares at Vigil.
And we are the same people, and not the same. We have greater hope. But we still screw it up.
That’s, I think, when we realize:
“The most memorable people in our lives will be the people who love us when we’re not loving ourselves.”
In other words, Jean-Paul Sartre had it wrong when he ended his famous play, No Exit, with the line, “Hell is . . . other people.”
Hell isn’t other people. God is.
Isn’t it amazing that the risen Jesus appeared as just another person? A gardener? Some guy on a beach cooking fish? A man walking down a road?
Isn’t it revealing that, when God had led the Jewish people right up to the doorposts of Canaan, and they were too scared to go in, the two who were sure of God’s support (Joshua and Caleb) didn’t just say, “Well, the hell with you wimps! We’re hitting the Milk and Honey”? No, they stayed with their people — forty more years!!
The disciples knew they had largely blown it. That even in the face of resurrection they were still afraid and saw themselves as inadequate. (Weren’t they locked in that upper room “for fear”?) And I’m certain the children of Israel didn’t love themselves very much at the moment they turned tail and ran back into the wilderness, with the Promise right in their grasp?
But “the most memorable people in our lives will be the people who love us when we’re not loving ourselves.”
And it is in those people that we will truly experience God. Easter’s over. Passover’s past. But there’s still lots of matza to finish up. Tired of ham sandwiches yet? Not loving it? That’s okay. The devil may be in the details, but God is in the leftovers!
So here’s my suggestion for carrying on spiritually, post-holy days:
Cut and paste the picture and words above. Send them to the person whom they fit for you. Because that person is God in your life right now, make no mistake.
And isn’t recognizing God’s presence (and trusting in that Care and accepting the Promise) what (especially) this time is really all about?
April 16, 2012