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Easter Day – A Reflection

April 9, 2023
A magnolia bloom we saw on our walk this afternoon.

In his journal entry from April, 1961 found in Turning Towards the World: The Pivotal Years, Thomas Merton described his own Easter experience. A gay, bright, glorious day and a very fine Easter such as I do not remember for a long time. The Vigil was tremendous for me and the glory of Christ was in it. There has been splendor in everything (including the emptiness of Good Friday morning, when rain came down in torrents and I stayed in the hermitage)… The hills are suddenly dark blue. Very green alfalfa in the bottoms. Yellow or mustard or sienna sage grass in my own field. Here there is no impatience. I am a submerged dragon. The peace of the Easter Alleluias. (April 2 and 7, 1961 – also found in A Year with Thomas Merton: Daily Meditations from His Journals, April 9th reading, page 154, 155) While my own experience this year was definitely different from Merton’s, this year’s experience for me was exceptional.

This morning, the good people of Swift Presbyterian Church in Foley, Alabama (where I am serving as their Interim/Transitional Pastor) gathered for Easter worship. It was a wonderful experience with family and community. We sang, we prayed, we shared our joys and concerns, and we had a lovely fellowship after worship (I was assured by one of our Fellowship Deacons that her fresh baked Easter cookies were calorie free😉). Yet I know that many of us had in the back of our minds the experience of our Good Friday worship two days before.

We remembered our Good Friday Ignatian experience of placing ourselves into the gospel story where we saw Jesus’ broken and battered body taken down from the cross and laid in the tomb; we watched today as Peter and John raced to the tomb, found it empty, and returned to their homes. We lingered a bit longer with Mary Magdalene at the tomb feeling a combination of grief and curiosity. We were there when the angels spoke to her. We were there when Jesus himself lovingly called her by name.

I know that I could quite literally hear him calling me by name. Jesus called each one of us who were gathered in that sanctuary by name. He calls us, he loves us, and he encourages us to follow him and be his hands and feet in this world. On this Easter morning, were called to go forth and share the good news of Jesus’ love with the world. A love which brings good news to the poor, release to the captives and recovery of sight (physical and spiritual) to the blind sets free those who are oppressed, and proclaims the year of the Lord’s favor. (Luke 4:18-19)

Like Merton on Easter morning in 1961, I saw the vivid beauty of our neighborhood and the inter-coastal waterway on our walk this afternoon. I hear his call once more to be his hands and feet in this broken and hurting world. Will you join me, dear reader, in this calling? Believe me, we are all needed in this effort to transform the world from a world of violence, hatred and fear into a world of agape (love) and shalom (peace).

  1. happy happy happy happy happy Easter to Stella – and her hoomans too 🙂

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