Reporter Mary Louise Kelly was in Iraq on a Blackhawk helicopter when her son’s school called from the US to say that he was very sick and needed her to come quickly to pick him up. Every working parent knows this tension of needing to be two places at once. I listened to an interview with Kelly on Fresh Air and one image lingered with me. She said something along the lines of, “Am I glad I went on with my job of reporting from all around the world? Yes. Do I regret leaving my babies every single time I did? Yes. And Both can be true.”
What lingers with me is that two seemingly contradictory notions can be true at the same time. Easter morning brought us joy and elation and hope for new life. But in the weeks before and after Easter, I have felt bombarded with death. We laid to rest four long time active members of our church. In the same way, I feel the exhilaration of springtime beauty with the tulips and redbuds popping and the yellowish green of the trees painting the sky. But reading the morning news reminds us of the horrific despair of our world. Both can be true.
Our faith does not ask us to ignore the pain, evil and sadness of real life in order to embrace the beauty, hope and joy of real life. In fact, the ancient prayer book of the Bible holds these two realities in tension. Psalm 22 paints a picture of heartache before God:
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast;
And Psalm 23 paints a picture of confidence in God’s holy presence:
The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want.
Easter is not about optimism and a denial of our feelings of doubt. Easter names that two things can be true at the same time. Death and Resurrection.
Frederick Buechner says it well:
The grace of God means something like: “Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are, because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It’s for you I created the universe. I love you.”
Grace and Peace,