You go outside. You see the Holy Spirit
burning in your trees
and walk on, glowing with the same glow.
Still you tremble out and in.
And the birds of all your yellow teacups sing,
and you know this hymn.
Somehow, knowing what you know
still you tremble out and in
Oh I know it, I know it, here is God beside.
I meant it. I meant I’m sure of that.
But the sky is tall and heavy,
when I could be brave,
- Innocence Mission
“Let’s pinky swear to never get this ap for our phones,” the e-mail read, linking to the new symptom checker from Web MD. I laughed out loud because the friend who sent it has empathized for years with my various phobias of rare infections and morose diseases. We’ve talked one another down from many a hypochrondric ledge over the last decade and a half. “Don’t you dare google it!” Is our shared mantra when bruises, freckles, headaches, stomach aches evolve in our overactive imaginations into a lethal strain of swine flu… or abdominal cancer… or polio. “Well every time I check my symptoms on-line,” my brother joked recently, “it says I have leprosy, so I don‘t bother.”
Oh, anxiety, what a nuisance you are – always raining on parades and such. And I’m pondering again this Bright week, in light of the Resurrection, how foolish it is to thoughtlessly swallow your poisonous barbs rather than spit them out, Christ is Risen!, swat them away, Christ is Risen!, suffocate them, strangle them, shut them up with prayer, Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen! O Death where is your victory? Where is your sting?
There is a book my kids adore – one quite wise in its simplicity – called, Seven Lonely Places, Seven Warm Places: the vices and virtues for children. Just last night, I heard my husband reading it to our youngest daughter. Courage, he said, takes up where others leave off crying and goes into the dark place to turn on the light. Damn timidity with its lukewarm take on faith, love, joy. Do I LIVE like God is sovereign? Do I throw caution to the wind and grab hold of the day before me (unknowns and all), embrace the person before me (faults and all), like one saved from enslavement to selfishness and trepidation? What good am I to anyone in the dark, if I too am leery of the dark despite the flame in my soul – the flame I can at every moment either fan or snuff out? It’s my decision.
This hope I’ll fight for till I’m scarred and bloodied isn’t soft and warm like a blanket but rather stubborn, fierce, relentless. And this hope will demand more from me than I think I have, will purge from me pettiness, pride and yes, fear. This hope will rage on in the midst of loss and disappointment, heartache and regret, humiliation and monotony because Love is, and ever shall be. Because Love’s irrational, eternal, invincible. Because Love is the Risen Christ is Love is All.
May this Pascha bring us courage, and a fiery, inextinguishable peace that passes all understanding.
“Then Christ will say to us, ‘Come you also! Come you drunkards! Come you weaklings! Come you depraved!’ And he will say to us, ‘Vile creatures, you in the image of the beast and you who bear his mark. All the same, you come too!’ And the wise and prudent will say, ‘Lord, why are you welcoming them? And he will say, ‘O wise and prudent, I am welcoming them because not one of them has ever judged himself worthy. And he will stretch out his arms to us, and we shall fall at his feet, and burst into sobs, and then we shall understand everything, everything! Lord, your kingdom come!”
- Dostoevsky, CRIME AND PUNISHMENT