Did you know there are seven Sundays of Easter in the liturgical calendar? Each of the Sundays between Easter and Pentecost (50 days) is a Sunday of Easter. Technically those 50 days are tied to the Jewish calendar of feasts and the actual timeline between Christ’s resurrection and Pentecost Sunday. It’s probably also designated that way in the church calendar to highlight how important Easter is to the Church and that we should take time to actually celebrate it.
But I also like to think we have that many weeks of Easter because it takes us that long to fully grasp that Easter has actually come and we can move on from Lent.
Pain, sadness, brokenness, grief, and mourning are complex emotions. The process of moving through grief and mourning can be slow and just when you think you have processed all that could possibly be felt, there is another wave or stage of grief to work through. This process will look and feel different for each person and situation. I believe that we should allow these processes to take as long as they need to and not rush ourselves or our loved ones through them.
But I also believe in healing, hope, restoration, redemption, and renewed joy. A time will come when even though the memories will not be forgotten and the grief may never fully come to end, that the heaviness and sadness will be lessened. That mourning will transform into hopefulness. That joy, happiness, and expectation will not be once-felt emotions but current lived experiences.
I think that transformation can take some time. And I think we start living with hopefulness before we know it. I think it can feel strange at first and maybe even a little scary. After having dreams, plans, and expectations crushed, it can take some time to believe in hope and joy again let alone live in them.
I have always been struck by the part of the Easter story when Jesus appears to people after his resurrection – Mary Magdalene, the men on the road, the disciples. They are all frightened at first. They have just been through betrayal, trauma, crushed hopes and dreams, the grief of losing a dear friend and mentor. They do not expect hope and joy to show up on their doorsteps. But there he is – inviting them to put aside mourning for joy. To leave behind disillusionment in exchange for hope.
The last couple years have been difficult for me. I have been doing the very hard work of processing the grief of betrayal, disillusionment, and trauma. I have been mourning a love, marriage, family, hopes, and plans that were very precious to me. There are memories I will never forget, things lost and given up that I will never get back, and some things I will probably never get to see restored.
But I feel like I am being invited into a new season of the calendar – a life of renewed hope and joy and expectation. I feel like I am being offered the opportunity to dream and imagine and plan again. That is wonderful and also a little bit scary. Everything I held most dear died. Everything I hoped and planned for ended. It is intimidating to think about opening up my heart and mind and soul to dream and plan and live hopefully into a future of building and growing again. I am still a little bit afraid of losing it all again. But the possibilities are so great and the idea of making room for redemption and new life so beautiful and enticing that I cannot help but move forward and live into that hope.
So I am trying to learn to live in Easter and leave behind Lent. I am trying to find my new home in the Promised Land and move out of the Wilderness. I think it will probably take me a while but I am so grateful that I have the time to do that.
And I really cannot wait to see what wonderful surprises this new season brings. I am expecting so much more than chocolate eggs and a new dress.