Though a wordsmith and a talker at my core, I readily concede that sometimes a picture says what words cannot.
And so, these pictures from the past days:
Sometimes when we are far from home we see more – not because there is more to see, but because our eyes are more widely open and more clearly focused.
Such far-from-home seeing — if we allow it — helps recalibrate our spirit and soul so that when we are finally home once again (and home is such a very, very sweet place to be) we continue to see widely, clearly, carefully, joyfully.
Our souls may have been blind once, but now they see. And what they see, if they really look for it, is a world filled with faith, hope, love, and beauty beyond compare.
Confession: it’s been many, many, many years since I lived in Nebraska, my birth-state (and the birth-state of three generations before me who managed to find their way from Europe to the plains).
But way down deep, my birth-state is still a part of me, mostly because of the heritage that has been passed down by men and women who diligently and faithfully and kindly and honestly built their lives while they worked the land and raised their children.
But today, I claim my birth-state for another reason that however brief, simply takes my breath away.
Watch. Closely. And for today, at least, be a Cornhusker with me.
Compared to other holiday day-afters, Easter day-after is an odd post-holiday day, with vague purposes and undefined parameters.
On Halloween day-after, we pillage all the (childrens’) candy bags in search of chocolate-covered and peanut-butter-filled goodness.
On Thanksgiving day-after, we eat leftovers (because apparently we are still hungry) and prepare for a long and holy day of football.
On Christmas day-after, we make pilgrimage to the reliquary Returns and Exchanges Department. And then wage battle on Some-Assembly-Required blessings. And conclude with the fray known as Detangling All The Power Adapters.
On New Year’s day-after we enjoy a quiet cup of coffee (for various reasons) in the stillness of our homely houses wherein we slept a solid 7 or 8 hours in perfect peace and stillness (or not) and wonder what all the fuss next door is about.
But on Easter day-after, we awake to a new week because always, always, always this day-after is a Monday which seems a serious mis-calculation. There are no candy bags (the seasonal trimming known as The Easter Basket is, for a pillager, not worth the effort.). There is noNFL (and possibly no March Madness because of Easter’s calendar fluidity). There is no commercialism mania (which is as it should be). And for a very few pathetic folk, there is no coffee.
Instead, a new week has begun. Monday morning in all its ridiculous glory has arrived. Again. Here we go. Oh joy.
But this is the day after the day that gives all days meaning. The day after the day that defines all other days. The day after the day that life truly begins. Surely it should be a day-after to define all other day-afters.
And so it is. For this is not only the day after the morning that Christ arose. It is also the day after the night that Christ breathed on his disciples, a little detail that gets very little attention or coverage.
That long-ago Sunday evening, the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because – as was so often true of them, and is so often true of us – they were afraid.
Suddenly Jesus – crucified just days before – was standing there among them. A dead-but-now-living man. A walking, talking, speaking dead-but-now-living man. A real live, present, visible, actual dead-but-now-living man.
And to those frightened, weak, shocked, terrified, bunkered-down men, He said this: Be at peace. (Much like He did when they were in a boat, on a lake, in a storm, sure beyond sure that they were going to drown. Wrong. Relax, boys. Be at peace.)
And they went from being afraid to being filled with joy when they saw Him – the Lord. Or more likely they went from being just afraid to being afraid and joyful. (This is an important detail. Too often we overlook joy when we are troubled because we assume they cannot co-exist. And too often we overlook our own and others’ trouble when we are joyful and so fail to experience life in all its fullness.)
And then – most amazing of all the amazing things that happened on the day after the day Jesus rose – he breathed on them the Holy Spirit.
God’s fullness is surely heard in the thunder, felt in the wind, and seen in the fire. But it is sometimes most evident in the gentle whisper of air that Jesus breathes on us the moment we first set eyes on His living presence and hear Him say: Be at peace. It is I. I am here. And I am Lord.
The resurrection changes everything for us. Absolutely. But even more so does the day-after breath.
Because of the first, we know He is alive. Because of the second, we know He is here. Breathing onto us. Breathing into us. Breathed onto us. Breathed into us.
Today marks the day we are filled with His breath because he began breathing again after he had breathed His last for lost and sorry sinners into whom He long ago breathed the very breath of life.
Easter day-after (even though a Monday) is a day to live. A day to shout. A day to sing. A day to dance. A day to breathe the Holy Spirit into our souls so deeply and fully that He spills onto the world around us where He is oh so desperately needed.