Awakening to the Unity of Grief on Easter



“Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll” –Psalm 56:8 NIV

By: Autumn Elizabeth

This is the first Easter that I won’t call my grandmother. I won’t update her on the sermon I heard, or tell her about which language I said the Our Father. I won’t describe the city I am in, the old church I found, or the breathtaking celebration of Easter I discovered. After years of celebrating Easter all over the globe, this year I will tell my Easter story to no one.

Except, I am not alone in my loneliness. Holidays after losing a loved one are always the hardest. The pain of their absence is keenly felt when we see their empty chair at the decorated table, their empty pew at high mass, the empty entry in our contact log.  This is the part of humanity that becomes general, global, universal. Whether it is Passover or Easter, Eid al-Fitr or Holi, the missing presence of a lost loved one is palpable.

As some point most spiritual quests must deal with death, with loss, with grief. In this way, we as humans are united. Not one of us can live forever, not one of us can avoid loss. As we grieve we must awaken to new possibilities, new life. As we celebrate holidays, we must awaken to our unity despite our differences.

This year as I awaken to a glorious Easter morning, as I attend a beautiful Easter mass in an ancient church, I will grieve the loss of my grandmother, and that grief will unite me with strangers I haven’t met yet, and I will find me someone new with whom I can share my Easter story.

Persevering toward Hope

By: Autumn Elizabeth

Where then is my hope? Who can see any hope for me?

Job 17:15

Lent this year was very hard for me, and not just because I was far away from friends and family, both literally(since I moved to Germany) and figuratively( since I gave up Facebook for the Lenten season). Lent’s forty days of preparation, penitence and perseverance  came on top of six months of unemployment,  a divorce and over a year of trying to keep my relationship together. Sufficed to say, I was ready for Easter.

However, Lent doesn’t end with Easter, Lent ends with the last supper, crucifixion and death. After forty days of preparing and waiting, we have to face even darker times before hope appears.

It is easy to forget about the suffering of Jesus on the cross because we know the outcome. Jesus will be resurrected!  Joy lives!  However, the truth is we have to dwell in the darkness first. Without pain there are no new beginnings; without the suffering of crucifixion we have no resurrection.

I find that life is a lot like the Lenten season. I wait, I pray, I hope and hope fails, I struggle, I hope again and at the end, I still must suffer through more before I am renewed with joy. But when joy finally comes, it is so sweet.

I, like Jesus’s mother and disciples do not know when joy will be coming around again, and sometimes it hurts too much to hope. Sometimes the most we can do is keep living,  keep persevering  and keep hoping for hope to come. Usually it is after our darkest hours, that hope rises brightest.

So this Easter, to those  full of hope,  and those who are still persevering toward hope, I say with immense relief,  “Hallelujah, Christ is risen!”

Sunday’s Here

It’s Easter.

Jesus died on the cross, rose again, gave us new life. It’s a day over the years I either passed in lace collars and white tights or one I barely marked at all. It’s a day that gets my head spinning, because intellect and chocolate bunnies have a habit of taking over and burying the truth six feet under the Easter egg basket.

But this year is different.

Love’s got me sideswiped, see. The Trinity came down in all its holy power this Easter season and knocked me into a brand new lane. My dad hugs me in this way of transferring his heart from his chest to mine and in that moment I swear my father in heaven must be just as red-headed, freckled and whiskery as my father on earth. Jesus showed up as my best friend, the one with the tats making sandwiches for a living, the one whose heart aches and breaks for the violence and the anger and the hurt. Then to top it all off, I found the Holy Spirit. He came as a tinkerbell sized ball and keeps bouncing around in my gut, just waiting to be spit out like a baseball with its cover blown clean off.

So here I am, with the Trinity all around me, huggin’ and breakin’ and bouncin’. They’ve got me living an unconventional life that scares me half to death, a life that puts stamps in my passport as if they were quarters in a slot machine. I’ve got these three guys, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, laughing at me because I say I don’t know how to love.

I don’t, you see.

Or if I do, I’m pretty bad at it.

But those three guys- they’re pretty good.

I’m learning to love, really love, for the first time in my life. It’s hard not to, when the trio keeps popping up everywhere making me feel clean and new and fresh and wanted. For a long time it felt like distant family member love. You know the kind. Non-communicative except for important holidays, but if shit ever got real they would fly in and take care of it. And then it felt like the tough parent love, the kind that rocks you back and forth and say they love you when they are the ones who just had you over their knee with a paddle to your behind. At the moment, there’s this Daddy Warbucks kind of love going on, taking Annie to the movies and making me feel both spoiled and like the luckiest girl in the world.

I’m at a strange junction in my life where I feel over-blessed and under-prepared. Lent wasn’t exactly a 40 day deal this time around, it was more like the last five years of my life. There was some preparation that came before I could even begin to understand what Easter was all about. Preparation that left me battle-scarred and bruised. I’ve still got questions that are unanswered, doubts, insecurities, and that’s partly what this blog is all about. But it’s also about making it to Easter Sunday, making it to the joy and peace that we simply have to believe is waiting for us down the road. Lent is all about faith. Easter is all about proving that faith to be true.

So, Sunday is here. It’s new and beautiful and worth it, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.