Saturday, January 17, 2015

Cracking Through to Easter

Rev. Jeffrey Symynkywicz, April 16, 2006

Now I know why we have eggs at Eastertime! I don’t know about you, but I learned a whole lot of things about eggs that I never knew in that little talk which the Worship Committee just gave. Like that Easter eggs were acceptable as birth certificates in law courts in Germany in the nineteenth century. It’s amazing what you can learn when you come to church!
I especially liked the part about how the Easter egg is supposed to represent the stone that was rolled away from the front of Jesus’ tomb. When we’re rolling Easter eggs, then (not that I’ve ever rolled an Easter egg in my entire life; a water balloon, yes—but never an egg, as far as I can remember, at least), we are reenacting, as it were, the rolling away of the stone.

The tomb of Jesus, we are told, belonged to Joseph of Arimathea, and it had been “hewn out of a rock”, that is, carved from the side of a small hillock. The tomb was, then, rounded on top; shaped like a hill, with an entrance facing out toward the world. So it wasn’t an ornate, free-standing tomb like we’d see in a modern cemetery; it was, rather, a dark and quiet chamber, a hole in a hill, integrally attached to the body our the great Mother Earth. It was an open circle; rounded at the top; inside, there was a body, still and seemingly lifeless, but about to emerge full of life and wonder and beauty.
The tomb was shaped kind of like an egg. Or a womb. A place of death becomes a place of new birth; that’s the wonder that Easter is all about.
But if we are to emerge from the tomb, the stone has to get rolled away. And if we are to emerge from the great cosmic egg, and fulfill our cosmic destiny, we have to break the shell, and push our heads out, and crack on through to Easter.
I sometimes wonder what it must be like for baby chicks when they’re hatching. I mean, it seems to require (relatively speaking at least) quite a bit of force for those teeny, tiny chicks to bash through the shell of that egg. They’ve got to use their heads as a battering ram; and push on through; and finally, stick their necks out. It can’t be easy; and they sure do look disheveled, and wet, and tired when they finally emerge.
But emerge they do. Because they know (as the Earth knows, and as all creatures on the Earth know) that “he who’s not busy being born, is busy dying” (as Dylan said). These lives into which we are born are either our tombs, or our wombs; they’re death beds, or great cosmic eggs. We choose, every day of our lives, which it will be for us. We choose whether or not to live out the Easter promise in our souls. We choose whether we’re busy being born, or busy dying.
When we, like those baby chicks, finally decide (in the fullness of time), to get out of that shell (or out of that tomb), and crack on through to that “something more” dimension in life—it won’t necessarily be easy for us, either. We might bump our heads; or strain our necks; or dislocate our shoulders (or our wings). My favorite metaphor for ministry is that of a minister acting as a “midwife of the soul”; often, though, I think we function more as “spiritual chiropractors”, helping people get back in order for the spiritual work they have before them. We all sustain a certain amount of wear and tear along our spiritual journeys. Maybe it’s tough enough, at times, to make us wonder if it’s worth the cost.
But we persevere, because there is this love inside that will not let us go; this deep throbbing spirit which will not let us surrender to the easy sleep of spiritual death. All day, life may be busting us up on the outside; but in the miracle of an Easter dawn, we’re going to break on through that shell to the new life waiting for us on the inside—waiting for us in the depths of our souls; calling to us out of the depths of all eternity.
When we’re finally free, and out of the shell, and dancing in eternity’s sunrise, we’ll look back in amazement at how thin and fragile and delicate that (seemingly impenetrable) shell was.
The stone blocking the entrance to that tomb was very large, we are told in the gospels. But it wasn’t big enough. It wasn’t large enough to stop new life from flowing.
That shell of “you’ve gotta”, “you oughta”, “you have to”, “you could never” might seem so thick and strong, we could never break through. But it’s not thick enough. It’s not thick enough, or strong enough, to withstand the power of Easter. The bridge of Easter spans the “No, no, I could never do that…” or our tired bodies and weary minds and the “Yes, I can—Yes, we can!” of our ever-young, ever-fresh, ever-Eastering hearts.
Cracking through to Easter is about listening to our hearts—to the voice of God in our souls—and empowering our minds to figure out how to do what the heart is telling us to do. New life can come when we stop running from the darkness and the pain and let it take us where we need to go. When we stop trying to sleep through the pain and the rage and the longing, or numb it away, and instead use its wisdom and its energy to help us batter away at the walls which confine us, we break the seal on the tomb, and behold—all things are made new!
I am that great and fiery force
sparkling in everything that lives;
in shining of the river’s course,
in greening grass that glory gives…

(Hildegard of Bingen)
Easter reminds us that the small ways of this world can die—and those small things include these physical bodies of ours-- but that the deeper life within us lives forever. Resurrection waits inside of us, waiting to be called forth, as fresh and new as spring finally arrived.
And when I breathe there is no death,
and meadows grow with beauties rife.
I am in all, the spirit’s breath,
the thundered word, for I am Life.

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