In February 2020, my church asked me to write something for Easter. It would be printed on cards with artwork and handed out as an invitation for the coming Easter Sunday services. I quickly got to work on what became a prose poem, but in it I ended up saying things I hadn’t set out to say.
For context, Easter is my favorite holiday. It’s a day that has always filled me with abundant joy and I look forward to it all year. There’s just something about the celebration and story of Easter that energizes me. It fills me with hope and gives a push when I become world-weary. Around Easter, heaven feels more real than anything down here ever has.
But in that piece, I wrote about sorrow—about the Friday marked with blood, violence, and death, and the capacity humanity holds to wound and destroy. I wrote about the Saturday marked with silence, mourning, and loss of hope. It was a lamentation broken by the line: “and then there’s Sunday.” For whatever reason, I was extremely aware of how painful the Easter story really is. I was tuned into the trauma and tragedy of that loss (remember, I wrote the poem before Covid and lockdown). But it didn’t dampen my joy. In fact, sitting in that space of deep sorrow made me more excited for the relief and rebirth of Holy Week.
I submitted the piece with some trepidation (Is this too heavy? Should it be lighter? Is it just going to bum people out?), but it was quickly approved. Of course, within weeks everything changed. Easter Sunday came, but it felt like a continuation of Good Friday, and for the very first time I wasn’t happy on my favorite holiday. I was stuck somewhere between mourning and confusion, and the idea of Sunday—of resurrection—felt so far off.
Today, the world still feels just as stuck. If the onset of Covid was Good Friday, then we have been lingering in Silent Saturday, and Sunday hasn’t dawned yet. It feels like we’re fully in the long, gray in-between now, but in this waiting and mourning I’ve realized that we have had many Good Fridays—the deaths of loved ones, expectations, hopes, desires, relationships, opportunities, normalcy… and we’ve had to freshly grieve them all.
But there have also been Sundays. Resurrections. If the Easter story teaches us anything, it’s that where there is death, there is also resurrection.
So, I’ve been really trying to note my resurrections: the moments where I look back on my prayers and see how they’ve been answered; the times where I’ve moved past things I thought I wouldn’t recover from, the heartbreaks I was sure would totally destroy me; the creation of new traditions in the midst of pandemic; the new opportunities I’ve enjoyed; the blessings God has given me; the ways we’ve persevered.
Some might say the balance of death and resurrection is just how life works, and they would be right. But I think the balance says something more: that in this waiting—no matter how long it takes—we can rest assured that there will be Sundays.
I’ve included my prose poem below:
“A great and lasting story is about everyone or it won’t last.” – John Steinbeck, East of Eden
You’ve heard the greatest lasting story:
Each spring flowers bloom and butterflies emerge from their cocoons and weather grows warm and sweet and nights shorten and days lengthen and the sun washes us in its golden light, and Jesus is killed. Each year He is nailed to rough-hewn tree, arms spread wide to welcome and hold every transgression that ever was or is or has been or will be. Each year there is blood and violence and crucifixion: pierced side, punctured hands, broken ribs, fractured legs, torn scalp in the name of great, unfathomable love. There comes a Friday, draped in black. A Saturday, gray and weeping.
And then there is Sunday, adorned in white.
Celebration and rejoicing chase two nights of deep sorrow. There is a stone and gaping-maw-grave and lightning men who quake the earth in early morning. Women run with good news spilling from their eyes and mouths. A grieving man asks for proof, dips his hands into wounds. Clapping and singing and tears echo out, trios of crosses wrapped in kingly shrouds stand in sanctuaries and Christ Jesus is caught up in the clouds promising always and unto the end.
And there you are, standing in the dust beside me watching the sky as He goes away and the lightning men appear saying that as He has gone, He will again come. But the years unravel to your birth and mine and the earth groans with souls and bodies and we tell of the virgin birth and Egypt, of the temple and the bath in the Jordan and the dove, the calling of Simon Peter, the shining shores of Galilee and the craggy hill of Calvary and the blood and the body and the rising again, and humanity’s spirit once dead made alive.
You’ve heard this story, probably a thousand times. But it’s so good—won’t you come hear it again?
What have you come back from after thinking you never could? What’s your resurrection story?
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