Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Everyday Grace:
Does Easter make a difference?

by Mary Cronk Farrell

(From the April 7, 2005 edition of the Inland Register)

Mary Cronk Farrell Lent is over and Easter has finally arrived. The children have inhaled their chocolate bunnies and foil-covered eggs. The relatives have eaten and gone home. The lilies are fading. Soccer season has started. Homework and housework continue. Now yard work beckons. I argue with my husband, a variation of the same argument we’ve had for the last 20 years. I find myself wondering: What difference does Easter make?

I find myself looking for some big miracle, some flash of inspiration or some radical shift that will make life easier or better, or at least make me a more loving and capable mother. After all, the disciples saw a man who was crucified and buried in a tomb rise from the dead. Can’t I expect something significant to come of Easter?

Perhaps this attitude shows that I am stuck back in Lent, that for me, Easter has not come after all. Am I still camped on that high mountaintop of the Transfiguration with Peter, James and John, afraid to go with Jesus on his journey to Jerusalem? Could it be I’m like the Pharisees who could not see how Jesus gave sight to the man born blind? Am I still weeping with Mary, sister of Lazarus, crying, “Lord, if only you had been here…”? Or maybe I’m just one of the crowd along the road, hailing Jesus as an earthly king, spreading out my cloak before him and waving palm branches in the hope of being rescued from my daily grind?

Easter is a matter of faith. Easter is a tiny sprig of green growing up through a crack in a parking lot. As far as the eye can see, there exists only strip mall, vehicle exhaust, and concrete. The wind blows an empty tossed-away McDonald’s paper cup until it stops against a curb. And there next to it shoots up new life, forcing its way through a tiny crevice. That’s Easter. Possibility where life seems impossible.

Easter turns everything upside down. When I find myself repeating a 20-year-old argument with my husband, Easter assures me that it’s worth taking the risk of being vulnerable in relationship. When I’m worn down by what seems the endless routine of work required to raise children, Easter promises there will be rest and joy. When I am wounded and want to strike out in fear or anger, Easter shows me the way of forgiveness. When I read the headlines of a world where violence, power and wealth prevail, Easter demonstrates the strength of non-violence, humility and generosity. When I despair, Easter offers hope.

If we attended Easter Vigil Eucharist in the days of the early Christian Church it would in some ways be very different than the Easter Vigil Mass celebrated recently at our parish church. Instead of a few catechumens joining the faith, you would have seen dozens of people being baptized. In some small home churches the congregations would be doubled after Easter. Instead of a shallow baptismal pool, or a font where the priest poured a bit of water over their foreheads, these would-be Christians faced a pit in the ground.

In a world where the Roman Empire was god, where political and military might ruled supreme, people saw something radical and different in the small Christian communities they sought to join. The Gospel offered hope and a new life they couldn’t find anywhere else. This hope, this way of living was so out of the ordinary it was like the difference between life and death. And so to become part of this community, they descended into a pit as dark and deep as the grave, they submerged themselves in water, unable to draw a breath of air, and then came back up out of the hole in the ground as if rising from the dead.

On the surface of our life here in 2005 in the Diocese of Spokane, Easter may seem to pass with much less fanfare. We may be looking for some great miracle and see only the disappearing act of too many chocolate eggs. Yet Jesus Christ lives, as we proclaim at the start of the Easter Vigil, “…yesterday, today and forever.”

© 2005, Mary Cronk Farrell

(Mary Cronk Farrell is a Spokane free-lance and children’s writer. Her new children's novel, Fire in the Hole!, is available from Clarion Books.)

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