Once again, I join Mary Magdalene and her sisters before an empty tomb from which the stone has been rolled away. I share anew in the women’s awe as they find themselves conversing with angels. And I stand once more beside my fellow humans as they prove themselves incapable of recognizing their beloved Jesus, risen now and returned to them in the flesh.
In my own life, I may never have the opportunity to speak with angels or to bear witness to an event that will figure so prominently in a spiritual tradition. But in these stories, I clearly recognize my own daily inability to know the sacred, even while my eyes are gazing directly upon it.
The mystics tell us that every aspect of our world is imbued with the holy. To them, all of creation inspires the deepest reverence. We walk among miracles every day of our lives, and yet most of us seldom notice. Just like the disciples, our vision is limited, and we see only what we expect to see.
I look out my window to a snow~covered mountain. While often I respond to the beauty of the view, seldom do I perceive the dazzling truths it contains. I see a mountain and I see snow, and that is all.
I am largely unaware of the eons of natural forces that have sculpted the unique shape of this mountain, and I am oblivious to the minerals that comprise it and the vast array of plants and animals that reside now within its folds. Likewise, I am blind to the stunning path that each speck of snow has traveled from oceans and streams far away~~rising first as vapor, swirling with its fellow molecules amid shifting cloud formations~~to arrive at this place to fall and nurture new generations of vegetation and living creatures.
The mystery of life, with its intricate and unfathomable processes, surrounds us whether or not we have eyes to see, and continues day after day, year after year, requiring nothing from us. The earth revolves around the sun without our aid. Photosynthesis needs not one iota of assistance from us.
I return now to the Easter story and am carried forward to John 21: 15~17. In this passage, the risen Jesus urges Simon Peter to demonstrate his love and fidelity by caring for others.
“Feed my lambs,” Christ exhorts. “Tend my sheep.”
By far, most of the miracles of life on this planet do not require our involvement in the least. But the triumph of love over pain and hatred and indifference? That miracle craves our efforts, fledging and imperfect though they may be. Caring for Christ’s sheep, in all their varied forms, is something only we can do.
And in this, the wonder of it all continues. For in each loving act, we are invited to participate in the heart of God, allowed to be a small part of the expression of the sacred in this world. Through sowing and tending the seeds of compassion, we are brought closer to the essence of all that is holy and are given the opportunity to partake of the miraculous.
An amazing honor, indeed, and one that enriches us beyond measure.
Have a lovely Easter~~and feed a lamb or two, while you’re at it!
To read last year's Easter essay, click here.