“I think I need to draw a picture about why Easter makes me sad”. Though she said it quietly, I heard it clearly. I probed a little and realized that her story is grievously not unique. Easter, like Christmas, reminds those who are displaced or estranged from the ones they love, how alone they really are.
I sometimes find the Easter season particularly challenging to navigate at The Dale because of this. Lent, the period of preparation for Easter tends to be solemn and is often when people “give things up”- not uncommonly things like coffee and chocolate. But how do you suggest giving something like that up when surrounded by people just looking for their next meal? Please hear me: I am not suggesting letting something go isn’t a good idea (in the past I too have given up chocolate). When done as intended: to direct our attention back to God, it is an incredible and good tool. I’m just acknowledging that this is one of the ways it gets complicated.
God of course moves despite what bogs me down. I shouldn’t be surprised.
We gathered with two other communities on Maundy Thursday (the day before Good Friday) to commemorate the last supper of Christ and wash one another’s feet or hands. We started the evening with a potluck that a large number of Dale folks contributed to, whether it was a huge vat of pasta or a box of Digestive Cookies from the dollar store. The evening felt set apart and holy.
On Easter Sunday we spoke of the resurrection of Jesus and what difference it makes in our lives. So many people shared of their gratitude to simply be alive. We talked about looking up at the sky and being struck by how BIG it is. People challenged one another to see the gifts that God has put in their lives, even when by the world’s standards those gifts seem meagre. I shared my sorrow over certain situations in my life and how while I’d love for them to be different, I also recognize God being present in them. We spoke and sang about the hope that we now have because of Easter.
We are slowly and carefully being transformed. One of us used to refuse even shaking another’s hand during our weekly ‘passing of the peace’, today hugs are given. One of us used to spend every day alone in a small rooming house apartment, today every moment possible is spent with a community. One of us continues to struggle with paranoia but considers it safe with The Dale. One of us drew a picture of Easter with such sadness, but is replacing it with a picture of hope. We are being reawakened to the resurrection.