My wife and I have found the transition from parenting a child to parenting children to be…oh, how should I put it? Not. Easy.
We had one figured out. I wiped his bottom. She emptied the trash. She read him books. I put him in his PJ’s. We had a routine. We had clearly defined roles. We knew what we were doing.
But then number two arrived and all bets were off.
Now they are both screaming. The trash overflows. He has a fever. The other he has a rash. One of the he’s just took a golf club to our brand new T.V.
Madness. That’s what the transition from one child to two has been for us. A joyful, lovely, infuriating, blessed madness I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.
That said, like all of life, this transition has required adaption. Roles are redefined. Rules are broken.
Just as they are on Easter.
We don’t expect the resurrection of Jesus. When we bury a body that’s the end of the story. After a funeral we don’t wait around for the dead person to reappear.
I remember my first graveside experience. I was just a boy but as I watched my Poppin’s casket lowered into the ground, I understood he wasn’t coming back. Spring follows winter, but there is no spring for the body after the winter of death.
When a person dies we say good-bye. We pray. We pay our respects and then we leave. We may have a stiff drink. Then, when we’re ready (which is never ) we do our best to carry on with life. You don’t ever “get over” a loved one’s death. Grief is a lifelong process. Does the pain lessen? Yes.
Does it ever go away?
Not in my experience.
On Easter morning Mary does not expect the resurrection. She is simply wrestling with her pain, doing exactly what we do when a loved one dies. She has gone to the grave, not because she expects Jesus to reappear, but because she want to mourn and pay her respects.
So she goes, while it is still dark, alone. But something is wrong. The tomb is rolled away. This can only mean one thing. Someone has stolen his body. Her emotions immediately shift from grief to fear. How do I know that? She runs away. She goes and gets two friends and, together, they return and discover what she suspects is true. The body is gone.
Faced with the depressing reality that Jesus has not only been crucified but his body has probably been tossed in a trash heap outside the city wall, the two disciples leave.
Mary, however, stays. She was devoted to Jesus in life and she is devoted to him in death.
John doesn’t tell us what she does or thinks. We don’t need to know. What we need to know is that she doesn’t leave. She enters the tomb.
In the place of Jesus’ body are two angels. They ask, “Why are you weeping?”
“They’ve taken my Lord. And I don’t know where.”
She turns to leave and sees another man she thinks is the gardener. “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”
“Mary,” the Risen Lord says.
Click. The first person to know of the Resurrection.
“Rabbouni!” She says. “Teacher.”
With this realization the world is flipped upside down. No longer does death have the final say. A person, buried and gone, has been raised to life.
If there is a better definition of a new day I’ve not found it.
Recently, I’ve begun doing something with my youngest son to celebrate the dawning of day and the hope of resurrection. Early in the morning, usually when he’s woken up far too early and my wife is deep in the throes of making breakfasts and lunches and dealing with the demands of a cranky four year old, I take our little one to the window that looks out onto our front yard. Which a whisper I ask him to behold all of the life being reborn right before us. We point at the trees and grass and the birds who shoot unexpectedly out of the trees and off into the sky.
His eyes, sleepy, become filled with wonder and together we experience the miracle of Easter as its replayed in the tiny details of a world bathed in God. That’s when the truth of Easter stirs a warm, hope inside me.
No matter what happened the day before. No matter how long and scary the night. No matter how exhausted or frustrated we are with work. I can go to this window with my child, and if we are willing to wait, as Mary did at the tomb, we’ll witness the miracle of God once again resurrecting the world for a new day. A day where anything is possible. A day where we should expect the unexpected.
The hope of Easter now turns from a warm hope to an electric jolt of energy within me. Renewed, I turn away from the window and carry my son back into a chaotic kitchen ready to face the day with the Divine knowledge that life always always always follows death.
The night is over. Today is morning. And ever shall be.
In this new day, how will you practice resurrection?