Celebrating the Gift of Newness

Happy Easter!

May the peace and joy of the Risen Christ be with each of you! This is, indeed, a season of great joy. Not just the liturgical season, but also the natural season. Spring is such a miracle – and a gift!

As a child growing up in southeast Texas and then in central Texas as a young adult, I enjoyed spring. The bluebonnets would start peppering the highway medians, the prairie-fire flowers (also known as Indian paintbrushes) were everywhere, azaleas bloomed and the smell of honeysuckle filled the grounds of my school. However, it wasn't until I moved to the Midwest in 2007 that my appreciation for spring grew to a new level.

My first spring in the Midwest brought tears to my eyes and lightness to my steps. My soul sang, "There is life!" after dreary gray days of cold and snow. It was the first time for me to see tulips and irises outside of a florist shop; and it was my first experience of flowering trees. I walked around with the lyrics, "The heavens are telling the glory of God and all creation is shouting for joy!" constantly in my consciousness. All of the Easter images of being called out of darkness into new life and joy made sense to me in a new way. It was as if the world around me were waking from a long sleep. And my soul entered this waking moment with indescribable joy. I felt that I was living the mystery of Easter. I was experiencing new life.

Because this winter was unusually harsh here in the Midwest, this Easter finds me filled with the same type of joy as the spring of 2008. The joy of Easter, however, is not dependent on geography.  We are all called to this joy, regardless of whether or not our physical space resonates with the liturgical season.

Our joy has its source in the love of God poured out so generously in the selflessness of Jesus. Jesus came into this world to give us life, love, and an opportunity to enter into a new relationship with God. We celebrate in this time of Easter the fact that life, love, God always has the last word. The stone was rolled away. Death does not have the final say. I am reminded of a song we used to sing at the Easter Vigil celebration when I was in college. Allow me to share part of it with you:

They have been saying all our plans are empty.

They have been saying, "Where is their God now?"

Roll away the stone, see the glory of God! Roll away the stone.

They have been saying, "All of us are dying."

They have been saying, "All of us are dead."

Roll away the stone, see the glory of God! Roll away the stone.

We are asked to roll away the stone that blocks our entrance into this newness. A question to ponder as we enter more deeply into this Easter season is, "What is the new life to which God is calling me at this time?" and "What are the stones that need to be rolled away so that new life can begin?" Let us always be open to the grace that moves stones!