Gladness


(system) #1

Easter Sunday, April 20

This day, “this most amazing/day” with the “leaping greenly spirits of trees” as e.e. cummings sings and I echo … this day is like any other day and yet it, more than any other day, for me is full of deep, shattering joy. The closure and finality of the period has been replaced with parentheses. Not—He came to earth and died. But—He came to earth and (dying) lived. Cummings again:

(i who have died am alive again today,

and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the

birth

day of life and love and wings: and of

the gay

great happening illimitably earth)

I repeat the familiar words; my own falter where others have said it so well.

Richard Rohr writes: “Jesus crucified and resurrected is the whole pattern revealed, named, effected, and promised for our own lives. The Jesus story is the universe story” (Everything Belongs).

To me the most miraculous thing of all is not this man-God Jesus’ resurrection, but the promise and reality of resurrection happening in my own life, and not just some distant day long after I’m buried in the ground, but now, today, this day, this most amazing day. Jesus showed us how to live, how to let our lives go, and how to live again. Today. Now.

Such immediacy is terrifying. Imagine stumbling through grief-fogged eyes to the tomb. Empty. It’s so natural to be afraid, that the first and frequent words angels say to humans are “Do not be afraid” (Matthew 28:5). We are so frightened of the unknown—of death, of letting go and surrender. But also of life, “the gay/great happening illimitably earth.”

Jesus says it too: “Don’t be afraid” (Matthew 28:10). “Peace be with you” (John 20:19).

“So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy…” (Matthew 28:8).

This day I will walk the labyrinth at Still Waters retreat in Michigan. The mown paths are bordered by daffodils blooming bright. Labyrinths are metaphors for life—the round and round about, both the inner and outer journey, the way narrow and winding. Like life, a path of uncertainty bounded by gladness.

Jesus comes in the midst of living and dying, saying, “Don’t be afraid.” But when you are afraid, as you will be, remember that “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). I am with you now and now and now and now.

(now the ears of my ears awake and

now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

- e.e. cummings

Now, today, I open wide my fragile, fearful heart to let in the promise and reality of resurrection.

Johann Lindemann’s words, translated to English by Catherine Winkworth, set to Giovanni Giacomo Gastoldi’s balletto tune, arranged by J.S. Bach:

In Thee is gladness, amid all sadness,

Jesus, sunshine of my heart.

By Thee are given the gifts of Heaven

Thou the true Redeemer art.

Our souls thou makest, our bonds thou breakest;

who trusts Thee surely hath built securely,

and stands forever. Alleluia!

In this version, “amid all sadness” is sung “gone is all sadness,” but I like “amid” better. Fear and sadness are here for the duration, but mingled with brilliant gladness.

"In Thee Is Gladness" (performed by Andrews University Singers, conducted by Stephen Zork)


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/5946