“Risen”

(updated and re-posted on Escape from Averageness® every year, on Easter morning)

The intrepid, results-based consultant reclined into the natural seat, at the back edge of one of the dry-eddy pools, where the beach resumed its slope more steeply upward, toward the higher dunes.

Easter 2019 Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

She dug the heels of her topsiders into the sand, still damp from the past night’s high tide.  It always felt good, she thought.  Resting her arms on her knees, she gazed eastward into the shades of blues, greens, and oranges comprising sea and sky.  The sun was now just above the horizon, shining brightly on what was a surprisingly clear and cool mid-April morning in northeast Florida.

She was in her element.  A seventh-generation Floridian, she loved the waters and land of her native state.  She wished she could have seen for herself the Florida her dad liked to tell her about – the mid-twentieth century Florida of his youth, as he would describe it:  Florida before air conditioning, interstate highways, and theme parks.

This was her routine, every year, on Easter morning.

She reflected on the words of John Eldredge and Brent Curtis, words used to describe the silence, solitude, meditation, and simplicity of what they referred to as “desert communion”:  “We have come to the shores of Heaven together, to the border of the region where our Christianity begins to move from a focus on doing, to one of communion with Christ.”

After a while, she reached over and removed her 35mm SLR camera from its backpack, switched it to manual, adjusted the aperture and exposure, and studied the image in her viewfinder.  Satisfied with her settings and composition, she released the shutter.

“ . . . take the photographs and still-frames of your mind”, she mused, as she reviewed her work.

Setting the camera aside, she turned her thoughts to the pre-dawn darkness of the first Easter morning, as she tried to imagine what the disillusioned, no doubt despairing, friends and followers of Jesus of Nazareth must have been thinking and feeling.

Prophecies notwithstanding, when they went to the gravesite, what did they really expect to find?  By every rational explanation and every shred of evidence, this man of so much promise, in whom they had placed so much hope, was dead.

They had been eyewitnesses to that death, and the effects of the torture that preceded it;  the term excruciating, she reminded herself, comes from the Latin ex crucis, meaning literally, “out of the cross”;  Roman crucifixions left nothing to the imagination.

They had been witnesses to his burial, as well, and the particularly intense security of his tomb.

For His friends and followers, this was certainly more than the physical death of one man;  for them, it was the death of all faith and hope.

Her thoughts moved to a time not far removed from the darkness of the days following the death of Jesus.  Realizing what they had experienced and seen, Peter and others now publicly asserted, that not only had they witnessed His torture, death, and burial, they had been eye-witnesses to His resurrection.

“God’s Kingdom had come, not at the end of time, but within time – and that had changed the texture of both time and history.  History continued, but those shaped by the Easter Effect became the people who knew how history was going to turn out.  Because of that, they could live differently.  The Easter Effect impelled them to bring a new standard of equality into the world and to embrace death – as martyrs, if necessary – because they knew, now, that death did not have the final word in the human story.”  (“The Easter Effect and How It Changed the World”, The Wall Street Journal, March 31, 2018)

Every other event – past, present, or future – either points toward, or proceeds from, the series of events that became Easter.

Rather than abandoning their faith and succumbing to hopelessness, Peter and the others said they were willing to live their lives – to give their lives – for the lives of others, and for the faith and the hope that His crucifixion, death and resurrection gave all of them.

In the words of Paul, subsequently penned to the churches of Galatia, they were all saying, in essence, “I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”

It has been that way, for every Christian, ever since.  It had been that way for her.

She smiled, and whispered.

“Risen”.