Monthly Musings - April 2017
What a glorious holiday. As our Lenten time of somber reflections come to a close, we celebrate. We rejoice in the light of the resurrection on Easter morning!
It might be good for our own spirits, to remember after each period of darkness or suffering in our lives, despite all our unavoidable failings, that a kind-of resurrection can indeed follow. I know you’ve been inundated during Lent and Holy week with the readings of Jesus’ passion. Therefore, although those readings are invaluable, meaningful, and vital to the season, I have selected some less common verses for our monthly musings. Hopefully they will still represent the glorious theme of our most precious holiday.
Consider these short snippets from Psalm 51:
Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your loving kindness
In your great tenderness, purify me with hyssop
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me hear joy and gladness,
Hide Your face from my sins,
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
I’d like to share some of what I experience in those words. My ear catches on: tenderness, clean, joy, renew, spirit... These highlights for me God’s unconditional, unending, tender love, which gently washes our beings, forgives our sins, refreshes our souls, and brings us joy. As I ponder the verses, I see the image of a waterfall. The water is clean and refreshing; it falls from a hillside filled with green, healthy, vegetation into a small tranquil pool. The shoreline is filled with smooth pebbles. The scene is most welcoming.
Easter is the perfect time to celebrate a renewal and cleansing of spirit. I also take note that we celebrate it annually. Aside from treats and fellowship with family and friends, could there be another meaningful reason to repeat the themes of Easter? Certainly. Think about enjoying a good hot shower, or a warm soak in the tub. Do you come out feeling lighter, refreshed, a bit renewed? Well, I do. I also realize that as I move through the hours of my day which may include exercise, gardening, cooking, dog-playing, etc. I re-collect dirt and grime along the way. Similar to our physical nature, our emotional and spiritual sides experience that same phenomenon. We have times where we are fresh, renewed, optimistic and joyful; others where we are tempted to show aggression, or be angry, unkind, to judge, push, or be selfish. Just as we consider how traveling down the path of life can cause dust to collect upon our skin, so too can our flaws and wounds muddy-up our spiritual souls now and again. Isn’t it wonderful to know that we can refresh our spirits just as often and as purely as we can our physical selves?
Imagine each time we visit the Lord in prayer - our own symbolic cleansing pool - how the gentle waterfall of His kindness loosens the soot of our failings; we exit dripping and all that unhealthy grime falls away. Yes, each day, we’re able to clean our bodies, minds, and hearts. This imagery can help us know that when we trip over imperfection, we can get back up, rinse, shake ourselves off, and move forward. We can once again feel refreshed and renewed. I am grateful for Easter as one of the times when I am able to celebrate this marvelous kind of cleansing.
Here are snippets from Isaiah 60:
Shine, for your light has come,
the glory of the LORD has dawned upon you.
Though darkness covers the earth,
and thick clouds, the peoples,
Upon you the LORD will dawn,
and over you his glory will be seen.
No longer forsaken and hated,
I will make you the pride of the ages,
a joy from generation to generation.
And you shall know that I, the LORD, am your savior.
No longer shall violence be heard of in your land,
The LORD will be your light forever
When I think about Easter (aside from bunnies and tulips) I think about the word glory and I see it as shining light. The imagery in these words is filled with yellow glow, dawn, and bright sunshine. I picture the empty tomb and know death is no longer victor. For me this translate into faith like this: when we trust God and find strength, we can let go fear, pain, or despair, even for just a little while. Each time, each year, perhaps the understanding of Jesus’ triumph can remain with us a bit longer and become more deeply embedded in our hearts. Without the threat of evil we could be free; we are free in Him. Although Jesus is the only one to fully achieve freedom from death, from fear, and from other human conditions, our faith can raise us up with Him. Through His example, we are able to love one another and our Father more openly, completely, genuinely, with more joy, and yes, light. I treasure this annual reminder of our ability to rise into the light. This particular time of year has long been difficult for our family. And, I know that many of us too often experience darkness: adversity, insult, hardship, loss, and disappointment. Still, on Easter, we can focus on the hope that always remains present, even in the air we breathe. We know that through His love and the guidance of His Spirit, we keep faith alive. That is the secret to rising above -- from the ground to the sky, from darkness into light. Whatever imagery we chose, let one word stand out in our heart: HOPE.
Here are snippets from Romans 12:
Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.
For in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function
Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them: in prophecy, in ministering, in teaching...
Let love be sincere; hold on to what is good; be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
Delight in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep
Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good.
Live at peace with all.
One again I highlight keywords. At Easter, God proves His unceasing love and devotion through the sacrifice of His son; He gives us a part of Himself. He leaves us with Jesus’ teachings, His true word, His bond, and His Holy Spirit. There has never been a greater contract with a more perfect guarantee. The more I pray and attempt to focus on discerning God’s will, the more I find tranquility, despite the chaos of the world around me. For even at death’s door, Jesus asked His Father’s forgiveness upon humanity. Even as He suffered, He loved without hesitation or end. Just as we read above, we know we can conquer the evils of this world, using our unique gifts accompanied by His grace. With our eyes focused on the words of sincerity, fervency and transformation, we feel His covenant written in our hearts. Here I see the imagery of the Lamb of God, representing his promise of peace. We are all part of Him, part of the one Body that seeks life. It may have taken the greatest sacrifice possible, but we have been joined together in His resurrection. We remember how Jesus did it God’s way. He didn’t allow His own ideas or desires to sway Him. He was the perfect example. In doing so, He breaks through the barrier walls around the garden of Eden, erected so long ago. Our savior has opened a grand archway into Heaven. We can rejoice, leaning on our faith that we too may one day walk through that same gateway into heavenly peace and love.
I wish you a happy, healthy, blessed Easter. May you know a clean, renewed spirit, keep hope in your heart, and grow in faith of His promise.
Lillian Corrigan uses writing to learn, inspire and encourage both others and herself. No stranger to devastating, life-altering hardship and loss, she's begun working as a motivational author.