Many times I hear people remark, ‘I just can’t take it in’. In a whole variety of contexts this remark is made – in times of unbridled joy and in times of heartbreaking anguish. When something happens which changes everything – we need time to work out just what is going to change and how this change impacts my ordinary day to day life.
These occasions don’t happen every day – sometimes ‘out of the blue’ they arrive and irrevocably alter the landscape of our lives. It might be a new addition to the family, an unforeseen opportunity at work, a loss of a loved one, or the news of an illness… whatever it is… time is required to gauge the truth and implications.
So, it is not surprising the Easter season lasts 40 days, 50 days if you run it through to Pentecost. Yet in our culture Easter is a week-end of chocolate egg overdrive! I love the chocolate eggs, but the implications of Easter go far beyond the feelings of guilt (and pleasure) in the consumption of all the Easter goodies on offer! Easter is the ultimate event which changes the landscape – this is why we are given a generous portion of time to begin to make sense of it, see the impact in our ordinary day to day lives, and to feel the surge of energy this connection with the resurrection life makes in us.
The appearances of the resurrected Jesus are intimate, fleeting and powerful beyond words. He expressly tells Mary on the first Easter morning not to cling on to him. In this encounter it was the recognition which was integral to the experience. The gardener (for that is who Mary thought he was) recognised Mary by saying her name. This recognition of Mary I imagine went straight to her heart – here was somebody who knew her and loved her. She then just knew – this was not the gardener but Jesus! No wonder she ran to tell the disciples the news.
The calling of a name can be a beautiful yet simple expression of recognition. ‘I know you…’ and the name is said. When we baptize or christen in church, we name the person – the name is a statement of who they are, it carries a meaning beyond the phonetics.
The Christian community is privileged to believe Jesus walks with us – the dead man who was buried walks with us (as in the resurrection story of the walk to Emmaus). He walks with us and eats with us. Not only that, but he knows us, he recognises us – who we really are. When Christians pray it is this we look to hear and sense. As we bow our heads to pray the ‘Our Father…’ we consciously direct our attention to this divine recognition.
And then we are invited to recognise Jesus – in the bread and the wine, in the ordinary day to day stuff of life, to recognise and to name him ‘My Lord and my God’ – the recognition of Thomas. When we hear the rustle of the leaves in the trees, when the sea waves break on the seashore, when a friend or a stranger smiles and connects with us – ‘it is the Lord’, we echo Mary. By not clinging to the recognition we receive it as a gift – and we walk on with our heads and hearts alert to the next recognition. 40 days to walk this journey changes everything, the landscape, no matter how disfigured, is re-arranged, re-configured in ways we will never have anticipated.
Have a blessed and happy Easter – really and truly!