Another dear friend has died. I’ve lost four precious kindred spirits in less than two months. One was just a boy, just fifteen, but I loved him like a son.
Days lengthen and lighten, but death’s darkness shrivels and shrouds my soul. I reel with grief.
Still … hope glimmers. I can’t stop reflecting upon the funeral sermon for my “second mom,” the ninety-year-old mother of a dear friend. The pastor explained that Colleen had lived her entire life as if Easter were a verb. She Eastered through her days, sharing Christ’s resurrection life and light freely with everyone she met.
The pastor quoted this exquisite line by Christian nineteenth-century poet Gerard Manley Hopkins: “Let [Christ] Easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us, be a crimson-cresseted East.”
And I ask myself, How can I let Christ Easter in me when I’m grieving the death of dear friends? the death of dreams? the death of expectations?
Sadly, I’ve not typically Eastered through life like my friend—and it was amazing that she did, because she experienced losses far greater than mine. (Hers are too personal, too painful to detail here). No, in recent years, I’ve all but extinguished Easter light, living dimly, complacently, with Stoic resignation, rather than joyful surrender to Christ (which always leads to life and hope).
Spring is here, but it still looks and feels like winter. A riotous rain has hurriedly come and gone. I ventured outside earlier this morning, chilled to the bone, on a walk through the park by a wind-whipped lake. I prefer now to cloister inside my toasty house, viewing our street’s towering trees from my ringside seat behind our picture window—my window on the world, the world awaiting transformation from winter to spring, from death to life.
I long for transformation, too.
All is dun-dulled: The trees’ mostly leafless limbs weave a wintry web of browns, grays, camels, and charcoals, crisscrossed against a pale, pewter-rinsed sky. Fallen foliage, crumbled and lifeless, spreads a crushed carpet of decay across dampened earth. A few forlorn leaves, pitifully shriveled, shockingly petrified, still cling to branches, as if they have refused to let go and die a graceful death allowing new life to come.
How can it possibly be spring, with death hovering everywhere?
And then … I turn my glance to the neighboring yard, startled by a sunburst of yellow piercing the dimness. Jaunty jonquils, like lemon-licked pinwheels, twirl in the breeze. Beyond them, neon-brass forsythias bloom brazenly, just daring the remnants of winter to remain one second longer. The flowers have at long last bloomed, proof that spring really is here, that the earth is ethereally Eastering.
The juxtaposition staggers me: stark death and stunning life. Paradox penetrates me to the core. Death surrenders to life. Death is not the end. It doesn’t have the final, awful word. Also, paradoxically, death reigns before life triumphs.
But death has reigned too long in me. How long will I refuse life’s triumph? I’m filled with selfishness, flawed with sin, overflowing with unbelief.
And I ask myself, Why don’t I allow God to Easter in me, to flood my winter-gray heart with Son-shine yellow, with the dayspring light of Christ’s passion, purpose, and purity?
And then . . . I turn my glance, glimpsing what I’ve overlooked. I’m startled by the Sonburst shattering of a stone-sealed tomb. Christ has risen. Jesus lives. Jesus lives in me! And because He does, I can choose to live victoriously in Him. He reminds me that it’s always Easter, and so I can always Easter, too, despite my despair and disappointments.
By His power, I choose right here, right now to lean into Easter light. I set my heart on heavenly things, on the truth that my departed friends are more alive than ever with Christ. The death of winter has not won. I turn my glance. I turn it Sonward toward the dayspring, toward the crimson-cresseted East.
Lynn D. Morrissey is passionate about journaling, through which God healed her of suicidal depression, alcoholism, and guilt from an abortion. A poetic word-stylist, Lynn sculpts beautiful language with her pen, and is the author of Love Letters to God: Deeper Intimacy through Written Prayer and other books, contributor to numerous bestsellers, a Certified Journal Facilitator (CJF) for her ministry, Sacred Journaling, AWSA speaker, and professional soloist. She lives with her husband Michael and college-age daughter Sheridan in St. Louis, Missouri. Contact Lynn by email at words@ brick.net or onFacebook.