On the Monday after Easter, mothers wonder what they will do with all those dyed hardboiled eggs. Grandma, who gave the kids piles of chocolate, has gone home. And in many churches, pastors are relieved to have the extra work of Holy Week behind them and turn their attention to what their next sermon series will be.
I am reminding myself with extra emphasis this year that Easter is not a day to get behind us. In the cycle of the church year, it’s an entire season—Eastertide—that lasts until the day of Pentecost, when we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit to the church. Even beyond that, it is a way of seeing life, with all its griefs and triumphs, through the lens of God’s ultimate power over death.
For me, the last few months have been Brokentide.
I broke my ankle very early in Advent, an event that caused me to focus on pain during a season when my heart yearns for welcoming Love. Combined with an icy blast, the injury then cheated me of the late night Christmas Eve service that normally is a high point of my spiritual year. I love coming out of church on Christmas Eve at midnight and it’s Christmas! I love going back at 10:30 on Christmas morning to hear the reading from John 1 about the light that has come into the world, and darkness cannot overcome it.
I didn’t get to do any of that.
By the time Lent began, my ankle was progressing nicely, and the weather was improving. I attended Lenten vespers services and looked forward to multiple services during Holy Week and a joyous, boisterous celebration of the resurrection on Easter.
I didn’t get to do that either.
My brother died two weeks ago and I have been wrapped in loss. A few days later, my mother was hospitalized and I sat with her for four days. Then another brother got unexpected news about his own health, and word came that yet another family member faces a significant health issue. In the midst of all this, I helped my mother prepare to transition to a new living arrangement, which is a season of great loss for her. I watched my brother’s children, each one in turn, lose themselves to sobs as they sorted his personal effects and chose what meant the most to them.
All in the space of two weeks. Instead of going to church, I spent Easter Sunday flying with my mother from Florida to Chicago to attend my brother’s funeral, which is tomorrow. And I sobbed on the plane.
While my mother napped to recover from a heavy-hearted day of travel, I walked. That’s what I do when I need to regroup.
And on that walk a snatch of a Christmas carol came to my mind.
“Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings
Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die!”
Those are very Easterish words for a Christmas carol. I cannot honestly say that they loosened the hold loss has on me right now. But I can honestly say I believe they will.
I hope that Brokentide will give way to Healingtide. For me. For people I love. For situations I cannot control. For lives that need to be put back together.
We all experience brokenness. We expend a great deal of energy trying to avoid seasons of Brokentide by getting everything just right. But this side of heaven, that is never truly going to happen.
May we never forget that in those moments we dread to embrace, Christ comes to us, risen with healing in his wings.