“Risen”

(updated and reposted 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 2018 Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

She dug her bare feet into still-wet sand, and felt the remnant of the past night’s high tide through her jeans and shirt.  Even with weather like today, it always felt good.  Resting her arms on her knees, she gazed eastward into the monochrome shades of gray comprising sea and sky.  The morning sun, which should have now been just above the horizon, was nowhere to be seen, hidden behind walls of fog, on what was a cool, damp, shrouded early-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 closed her eyes and reflected on the words of John Eldredge and Brent Curtis, words used to describe the silence, solitude, meditation, and simplicity of what they called “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.”

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

“ . . . take the photographs and still-frames of your mind . . . even if they look like they were black and white”, she mused, as she reviewed her work.

She set the camera aside.  Her thoughts turned to the pre-dawn darkness of the first Easter morning, as she tried to imagine what the disillusioned friends and followers of the one they called Jesus of Nazareth must have been thinking, what they must have been 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 unquestionable death, and the effects of the torture that preceded it;  she recalled that the term excruciating came from the Latin ex crucis, 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 then moved to a different time, one not far removed from the darkness of the days following the death of Jesus.  Although it had taken them time to realize what they had seen, Peter and others now asserted, for everyone to hear, that not only had they been witnesses to His death, they had also been witnesses to His resurrection and His ascension.

“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)

Rather than abandoning their faith and succumbing to hopelessness, they 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.”

So it has been, that decision, she thought, for every Christian, ever since.  So it was for her.

She smiled, and whispered.

“Risen”.