It's just after midnight here in Chicago. Happy Easter. Were I back in NC, I'd planned on spending the night with a friend of mine and my cousin Lexi and her husband, in church for the midnight resurrection liturgy, anastasi. Because all restaurants are owned by Greeks (especially in Chicago, but I'm betting there are a number around down there, too), they tend to be open at 2am when church lets out, and so there's usually late night noshing and celebrating involved afterward. Instead, I spent the evening with my wonderful "inner circle" types. I ate really good pizza and too much giant frosted chocolate chip cookie (PS, y'all should not have sent that home with me). We talked and laughed and caught up, and - as always - it was wonderful.
I whine and complain sometimes about my life, because, you know, it's so damn hard. Which is no joke - I always seem to be riding the crest of some crisis or another. For a while I was trying to convince myself that was my own creation, that I was just catastrophizing and making mountains from molehills, but the truth of it is, there's a lot of crisis and chaos in my life. Partly because I allow it in; I fix things, it's what I do. So I'm more willing than some to jump into the middle of a crisis, and more likely to put myself into situations that may disintegrate into chaos.
But partly because I was either really horrible or really good in a past life, too, I'm thinking, because sometimes there's just no explaining the crazy shit that finds me.
It seems at the moment, though, that pretty much everyone I know is having a rough time of something right now, though. I mean, partly, it's the season for it (this is the end of our high-crazy season in mental health). Sometimes it's just a confluence of factors. But everyone seems a little bit more weary these days, and that saddens me a little.
But the sentiment of the Easter season does not escape me, and whether you're Christian or Jewish or Pagan or Muslim or Martian, it's something we can all appreciate. There's something very spring-like about the crucifixion story, of rebirth and redemption, of life renewed and hope revived. Whether you believe it fact or parable, wrote truth or good idea, it's an inspiring story. Little Jesus of Nazareth, all grown up (mysteriously enough) and facing his destiny. He is frightened, but he bears up his cross and marches on, keeping his focus on the goal, enduring the jeers and taunts of the crowd. He is tortured and tested, but it is not the human factor that breaks him; rather, in his final moments, he cries out to his father, feeling abandoned, alone, "Why have you forsaken me?" He draws a final, ragged breath and says, "It is finished."
Now, of course, the secret society conspirists will tell you that he may not have died, that he was entombed and then carried away in the depths of the darkness, that he was nursed and nurtured back to health by his inner circle and then went on to a full and meaningful life after "rising on the third day." Maybe that's true, and to be completely honest with you, that's the story I like to tell myself. But maybe it was nothing short of death and resurrection. Maybe Jesus was a zombie (how do you say "braaaaaains" in Aramaic, I wonder?). Maybe any number of other things happened in that tomb. Regardless, it's a tremendous story of strength and perseverance.
But I think that moment of doubt, of seeming abandonment, I think that's important to understand, too. I think we all have those moments, when we're muddling through as best we can, when we're trying so hard and are still drowning in the flow of catastrophe, when we're just overwhelmed and scared and feeling alone and abandoned. We may think all hope has been lost. Someone may even have a metaphoric sword in our side. Somehow, I find it comforting to know that even Jesus - knowing his purpose, knowing his fate - faltered, and in that affective storm, in that screaming chaos, showed his humanity so fully. And then - went forward anyway.
The story of the Passion is one of such tremendous hope, even in the face of fear, horror, and disaster. I'm trying to hold on to that right now, you know? It's a season of life renewed, of faith and hope and rebirth. But it's also a good reminder that one can feel the torrent and tumult and it's okay; in truth, it is that which marks their very humanity. It's okay to be scared going into the unknown, but if going forward is what needs to be done, you do it. And even if you get pulled under by the sucking, swirling currents of fear, you can and will overcome them. With faith in your goal, and with perseverance, you can, indeed, rise up.
Alithos anesti. Truly, he is risen.