What do we do with Easter every year?
How do we bring it down out of the clouds of pomp and ceremony and organ toccatas and overblown lilies, into the dark spaces of our hearts, where new life is so desperately needed?
What will all this Holy Week hullaballoo mean to us on the Monday morning after, waking up hungover from a hundred hallelujahs and too many chocolate bunnies?
How does this Easter thing ACTUALLY change our lives?
I've been thinking about what Jesus said: "Unless a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds."
That's often quoted as a prophecy of what Jesus was going to do on the Cross: surrender his life, and in so doing, become the first born of many siblings as Romans 8:29 says.
If Jesus is the first-born among us, and if we're intended to obey when he said, "Follow me," then how do we follow our brother Jesus this Easter week?
I think about all the things I cling to, and wonder if I am supposed to release them.
The little seeds of things that seem like sustenance to me, because I'm hungry for so many things, and this little seed could feed me.
I don't want to let it drop, I don't want to wait and see what might grow.
What if the seed dies and nothing happens?
What if I'm left hungry, with not even that one seed left any more?
This past weekend, I went to Albuquerque for a conference at the Center for Action and Contemplation, where Richard Rohr is the founder. Father Richard, who's the author of one of my favorite books, Falling Upward, was speaking alongside Paul Young, the author of another favorite book of mine, The Shack.
I had pretty decent expectations of the conference, and I was not disappointed.
I cried so many tears and wrote so many notes, that no doubt I'll be processing for days and weeks to come.
The very last note I wrote, the final word from Paul Young was this:
"When you deal with fear, there are only two options: control or trust."
Which seems like a pretty good thought to think during Easter week, when considering how we might try to follow Jesus.
The reason Paul Young could say at the end of the conference, here are your two options, and we didn't all get up and run out of the room saying "what a jerk!" is that the whole conference was about the Trinity and how the Trinity is not "two guys and a bird" but a circle-dance of Love, the constant infilling and outpouring of Love among the three persons of the Trinity, and how their great dance of Love includes you and me and all of Creation.
So when we let things fall, they don't fall into nothingness--even though it may seem so at the time.
Instead, everything falls into Love.
So whatever the seed is:
the admiration we want others to feel for us
a marriage that's been broken by abuse, neglect, or abandonment
a religious tradition that no longer nourishes our spiritual selves
our perfectionism, our performance, our control.
We can release that little seed,
let it fall into Love,
and trust that the act of outpouring is simply a prelude to infilling.
We don't know what comes next.
We just release.
Except the only guarantee that truly matters:
And that one thing is, always and forever,
the anchor for our souls,
firm and secure,
and the fertile soil
for a new crop of beauty for ashes.
So we come into Holy Week with open hands,
letting all the little seeds
"Everything that passes away is reborn into the reality of God." Richard Rohr