When waiting for the Dawn of Easter Sunday

(Yes, I know… Easter is already here. The following reflection was from Good Friday/Holy Saturday, April 15 and 16, already a week  past. I just rediscovered it in the “drafts” section of blog entries and thought, “Hmmmm… this is still relevant, even though we are already into the Easter season.” So, here it is, for what it may offer. – Patrice)

My prayer this morning started with a lectio divina for the Octave of Easter, shared by USCCB (US Council of Catholic Bishops). 

HERE to download

Later, I sat with this contemporary “Way of the Cross” shared with me by a friend in Menomonie Falls, WI. It places the Way of the Cross, and the Paschal Mystery among the people in Ukraine and Russia. 

I wept.

Download HERE.

As I have watched the war in Ukraine unfold and as I have seen the suffering and devastation in photo after photo, I am acutely aware of the similarities with the “400 year war” against Indigenous people here on this continent, as well as in Australia, South America, Africa, and Asia. 

The lines of military vehicles, the guns and cannons, the destruction of entire villages for no reason other than that they are there. The driving force compelling theft of land and at the same time, disregard of those already upon it. The scrambling for defense, the helplessness of lines of women and elders and children carrying bundles, walking anyplace other than where they’d just seen relatives murdered, prisoners with hands tied slaughtered, the technologies of war wounding hearts and minds and killing innocents scrambling to safety.

Yes, this is what invasion means. This is war crimes and genocide. This is 2022 eastern Europe and late 1800’s North America. Pictures and videos flow none-stop from Ukraine. Indigenous memories of genocide and invasion by settler-colonialist armies make up for the lack of cameras; stories of terror, forced evacuations, casualties and killing are passed down among tribal nations,…

… while invaders took- no, stole is the better word- (since many of these nation-to-nation treaties were not fully implemented or have been broken by the US government)- more than 1.5 billion acres from the homelands of tribes across what is now the USA. [excellent map showing this graphically.]

This mindset- that land is to be taken by the country with the biggest ability to destroy or damage, even to destroy or damage innocents- is not new. Even in my lifetime, I’ve seen this mindset of violence and occupation happen in Africa, in Asia, in South America, in the Middle East, and now in Europe. I live in a place where this mindset stole both life and land, and tried to steal religion and language and culture, too.

As I sit today, in this space carved out for contemplation and mediation on the suffering, dying, and rising of Christ, my heart is stirred. The suffering Christ is among the people who suffer displacement, war, and oppression right now, in this our world. The suffering Christ stands beside the mourning parents, the terrified children, the soldiers of both sides. The suffering Christ accompanies yesterday, today and in the future. 

My mind so wants to leap directly to the Resurrection. I know Resurrection lies beyond the passion, beyond the death. 

But let me stay, instead, through this long Good Friday, through this hollowness of Holy Saturday. Let me wait in this small, insignificant way, beside these men, women, and children. Let me offer my own suffering, knowing Christ stands here, too. 

Patience can be so darn hard when waiting for the dawn of Easter Sunday.