A Day of Hope
Post date: Apr 02, 2021 10:45:56 PM
For years I did not give Easter much importance. It is pretty easy to walk through Walmart and disregard it. There is enough candy to make you sick. There are baskets and eggs, chicks, ducks, bunnies and occasional lambs. There is that awful fake grass and - worse yet - peeps. I admit that I do like black jelly beans. But other than that, there isn’t much to the commercialized version of Easter.
Even knowing the story of God being tortured to death for my wrongdoing and being raised from the dead over two thousand years ago was not very inspirational to me. It just seemed weird, confusing, and honestly, pretty creepy. Christmas was much easier to get excited about. Experientially, I understand the excitement of a sweet new baby. I have held babies before. Babies are like micro-humans just bursting with promise and possibility. But torture? Being raised from the dead? This just does not compute. I hadn’t seen it. I didn't really understand it. I couldn’t quite grasp it.
In 2009 I was told I could not get pregnant because I had significant uterine trauma - but I desperately wanted more children. Desperately. I mourned the loss of a dream of a big family. Then against all odds, after multiple doctors told me it was physically impossible to conceive, I unexpectedly got pregnant. I was overjoyed! It seemed to be a miracle! But, on Valentine’s day, I lost my little girl in the second trimester. Her name was Josie Rose. I went in for a routine ultrasound; she was sucking her thumb but she looked so tired. I remember distinctly when the doctor told me Josie’s heart was no longer beating. My hands were on my pleasantly plump belly and I had felt her move just the night before. I didn’t understand. My mind didn’t comprehend. I looked the doctor right in the eye and said “Well, make it beat.”
We don’t really understand something until we experience it. That year I tasted the depth of death’s sting. My body was split in two, my heart was cleaved, and my arms felt so empty. I was so empty. I was just a messy, grieving shell that could not seem to get out of bed. I drank deeply from the cup of grief.
2009 was also the year I came to know true comfort. Comfort is not coffee in front of a fire - that is coziness. Comfort is a husband who crawls into bed with you and pulls the covers over your head so you can cry together. Comfort is your friends coming to your home and helping you get in the shower. Comfort is having someone step into your grief with you. Comfort is having other women you don’t know well listen to your story, and telling you of their losses so that you know you are not alone in your pain. It is little poems written for you. It is a small memorial gift. It is having someone remember the next valentines day to call you and ask if you are ok or if you need them there.
Before 2009, I had no comprehension of what it meant that God would allow the death of his son just because of his deep love for humanity - of his love for me. I began to really contemplate the magnitude of what it might mean to be so incredibly loved. Lots of religions herald goodness and love and kindness. But I can’t think of another religion that puts humanity in such high regard that God would willingly lower himself to taste that level of trauma.
That year I began to really think deeply about these things and it has become my habit to celebrate lent. Many people celebrate lent by giving something up. I celebrate by choosing something creative to work on while I think deeply about God and the world and me and how we all are wrapped up together. It is a time that I consciously contemplate existential things. Is there a God? If so, who does he claim to be? Do I see evidence of that claim in history? Do I see evidence of that in my life? Who am I? Who do I want to be? How do I become who I want to be? Do I really want to know the answers to these questions? If I know the answers, then what?
For me, lent has become a time to really roll these theological and philosophical ideas in my mind like a hard candy in my mouth. It is during Lent that I have allowed myself the freedom to ask these questions honestly. I have given myself room to assess and then grow during the season of Lent. I have found great comfort in my conclusions. I have come to believe the tortured to death and then raised from the dead out of intense love story. That is some serious love. That is unfathomable. I have found much comfort and hope in Easter and all the promises it brings. Oddly, contemplating these questions has helped me to accept and love other people with different belief systems than mine because I have come to know, at least partially, how imperfect my own understanding is.
Usually I do this thinking and meditation over pysanky. Here are some of my eggs. I am not a professional “egger”. But in each of them, there is thoughtfulness and prayer. I give many most of them away for free will donations. If you would like one, please email at firstname.lastname@example.org. This year I am using the donations for hooking up water to my studio.
Some traditional pysanky, and some pysanky inspired sharpie eggs
I did fewer eggs than normal this year because I spent a bit of my time working on a series of trilliums to celebrate Easter with. Trilliums are native North American lilies that grow in New Hampshire. These flowers were chosen to inspire people to think deeply about the character of a triune God and His relationship with us. Additionally, they remind me of the story of Jesus asking his friends to "consider the lilies" when he was addressing their anxiety and worry. (You can read what he had to say about it in the book of Matthew 6:25-34.) Each of these trilliums have micro beads embedded into the paint of the stamens and the pistils. The micro beads refract light giving the appearance that the light is coming from within the flowers.
Oils and micro glass beads on stretched canvas.
I am fully aware that many of my friends and neighbors are not people of faith. If you are not, I invite you to give yourself plenty of time to sit and contemplate some of these big existential and spiritual questions. I can't tell you how much benefit I have had from doing this. Take time to read and study and truly search for the answers to those questions. Talk with others about what you are learning. Assess what you discover honestly. Think deeply. Dream big. And love thoroughly.