Easter Sunday, 3 am

It’s Easter Sunday

long before dawn.

The moon lies low in the horizon,

looking slightly harried

from it’s all night vigil.

Across the road,

the forsythia is silent–

it’s bright yellow hues

dampened by the darkness.

The children are sleeping,

except for the toddler,

who briefly wakes

for a bottle, then curls up

and returns to her dreams.

The world does not yet know

that the glorious resurrection

is about to take place–

the silence of Holy Saturday

continues throughout the night.

With Mary, I watch and wait in hope

for the tomb to be unsealed

and Life to burst forth

in triumph.

Easter Accompanies the Suffering Heart with Hope

When I was in the depths of grief after losing my baby daughter Josephine five years ago, I found it was very hard to go through holidays that focus primarily on being joyful. The pressure to be happy was too much. Christmas is cosy and lovely and normally a huge favourite of mine, but not when the pain is still too raw. In times of struggle, I prefer Easter.

Why? Those of you who know me might be thinking of one thing: chocolate! All the chocolate without all the work of Christmas. I am definitely a believer chocolate’s ability to comfort and to express affection when given. I almost always include some chocolate in the grief baskets my friend Julia and I make for bereaved moms, along with my baby loss poetry book and other encouraging books and self-care items, but no, chocolate isn’t the reason.

Although these days, when things are extra stressful around the world, there are times when I’d like to simply bury my entire face in a Tuxedo chocolate layer cake, there is something chocolate cannot do: accompany me in my suffering. Share my grief. Give dignity to my tears, by saying, “I, too, have suffered. You are not alone.” This is something God can do. This is something Jesus does from the cross.

“There is no evil to be faced that Christ does not face with us. There is no enemy that Christ has not already conquered. There is no cross to bear that Christ has not already borne for us, and does not now bear with us. And on the far side of every cross we find the newness of life in the Holy Spirit, that new life which will reach its fulfillment in the resurrection. This is our faith. This is our witness before the world.” – St. John Paul II

Despite all the wild and crazy things that happen in a complex world where there is human freedom, and also the realities of pain and death, we can be consoled by knowing that we do not suffer alone, for we have a God who is compassionate. As I would tell my kids in homeschool, compassion comes from the Latin “cum” (with) “passio” (I suffer). But why would God want to enter our mess, instead of remaining “aloof in icy splendour,” as the archbishop of Toronto poetically asked yesterday?

Love. A personal love for each person ever created. A tender love for you and for me individually. A desire to accompany us in our hardest moments, and to help us bear them.

I have experienced this same desire myself. After losing Josephine, I had an intense desire to be with others who were in pain, to accompany them in their mourning, to hold their hands on the long road to recovery. I could not make their pain disappear, but I could feel it with them, and let them know their grief was valid–was in fact a beautiful sign of their immense love for those lost.

So if you are in mourning this Easter, I encourage you to reach out to the source of love through prayer. God truly cares about your struggles, and wants to help you carry your crosses, as once he carried his own: with blood, and sweat and tears, but also with the dignity of one who gave his life for others freely, out of love. By reaching out to console others in pain, you, too, share in the healing power of God’s generous love, a love stronger than death.

Easter Vigil

Those who dwelt in darkness have seen a great light…Easter vigil with the kids is always a bit of an adventure, but it certainly makes Easter memorable! Seeing the Easter fire…entering the dark church led by the Easter candle, and slowly seeing the church lit up by tiny pools of candlelight near the joyful faces of each person, all holding their little beeswax candles. And of course, all accompanied by song. It’s something worth staying up for. 

  
   
 

And after the solemn prayers of expectation, the great joy of Easter, a burst of brightness, and the choir proclaiming the resurrection to the sounds of ringing bells and exultant organ. It’s gorgeous, and festive and joyful. And after all this, there was a huge reception downstairs! The kids, excerpt my eldest who stayed awake the whole time, woke from their sleepy spots on their pews and had treats. What kid doesn’t love staying up late and eating chocolate!  Happy Easter everyone!!