Today is Easter. The day that changed everything. The day when LIFE became possible once again.
For the past several years, Lent and Holy Week have been predominantly contemplative, quiet, reflective, and holy days for me. These have been weeks where I've sensed God's presence in deeper ways and have noticeably grown closer to my Redeemer and Savior.
This year has been different. I fasted noise in my car [other than the noisiness of Judah and Addise attempting to out-jabber each other] because I couldn't figure out what else to give up. I felt like I've already given up so much: free time, sleep, personal space, my bed, going to the bathroom alone, sleeping in on Saturdays...And while every sacrifice has been unquestionably worth it, it's still stretched me. I told the Lord on Ash Wednesday, "I'm not sure what else I can give you." So, I [barely and with many exceptions] gave up music and phone calls while driving in hopes of hearing more from God. I'm not sure that I necessarily heard more from God, but the space definitely provided deeper breaths in the middle of our crazy days.
As I entered Holy Week last Sunday, I wondered how this year would be different.
I sat this week with a girlfriend who lost her baby at 22 weeks in utero. I wept as I listened to her grief and prayed with her. Yesterday, I celebrated another girlfriend's pregnancy at her baby shower while soberly remembering her previous miscarriage. Today, Easter Sunday, I wept at a grave site as one of my middle school students buried his mom. I sobbed holding my newly adopted daughter and watching this newly orphaned 14-year-old sing Green Day's "Time of Your Life" as his mother's funeral. Things were not as they should be. Things were exactly as they should be. The tension of Holy Week.
Years past, I used to attend 6am morning prayer at our church. I used to soak in more Scripture. This year the only thing that felt "holy" most days was when Judah and Addise both had clean diapers. Those were seemingly the only pure and set apart moments of my days!
Or maybe after they were freshly bathed, smelling all lovely as I rocked one of them to sleep.
Or maybe there was holy love when Judah gave me sweet kisses in the morning.
Or maybe there was a sacred moment when I chased my kids around the house to exhaust their boundless energy before dinner - giggling and squealing filled our home.
So, maybe I didn't start my days at 6am with a prayer meeting, but I'm learning new unforced rhythms of grace [Matthew 11, The Message]. And I'm finding God in the mundane and ordinary things.
In the words of the martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer,
"I'm still discovering, right up to this moment, that it is only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith. I mean living unreservedly in life's duties, problems, successes and failures, experiences and perplexities. In so doing, we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God."
I suppose I'm learning to throw myself into the arms of God as I change diapers, feed and bathe babies, and love them unconditionally.
Today was our first Easter as a family. And as Addise's name rightly reflects, there is new life all around, even in darkness. O Happy Day. He's alive!