Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easter Eve

I'm thankful for the contrasting themes of darkness and light, death and resurrection. Easter weekend beautifully sets these paradoxes up for us to consider and lean into. These are some thoughts which I shared before our Maundy Thursday gathering at Hope Chapel this week...

About a year ago, Hannah and I bought a woodcut print by an artist named Sister Mary Grace. She is a Dominican Nun who spent most of her life in a monastery in Cincinnati, Oh. She is old now, and I heard her speak last year and was so impressed with her experiences of hope, even in her life's work serving mostly the poor and disabled. After she spoke I went to the back of the room and looked at her artwork. One piece in particular struck my eye; the one that's hanging in our living room now. It is called "At the heart of darkness". At first glance it is a sort of web of dark strands, orbiting around the center of the piece. They are shadowy and mysterious, and give some feeling of "lost-ness". But as you come closer, you realize that the strands are circling around something in particular: printed in gold leaf, it's a candle. It's small, but it is burning, even in the swirling darkness. In the heart of darkness, she is reminding us, there is light.

I think it is the same idea Tolkien had in The Return of the King when Sam and Frodo are under the dark Mordor sky and Sam looks up to see a single star through the blackness:

“Like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.” 

The bible's story of redemption is filled with moments that seem hopeless. This weekend we mark the occasions of Jesus' last supper with his friends, his betrayal and death. Those near Jesus would feel that all hope was lost. And of course we experience this in our lives as well. But the Bible reminds us that God's covenant, his promise to be faithful, it persists. It pursues and perseveres through dark hours. It leaves graves empty and debts forgiven and it will prove to to be the "high beauty" that puts our weary souls at rest.

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