Like all holidays, it is easily overtaken with memories and personal meaning. When I think of Easter (poor Christian that I admittedly am), I think of blowing bubbles on my Nana's porch on a foggy Sunday morning. I think of canatas and solos in the choir. I think of spending the afternoon with my friend Neha and her family. I think of the year that my family and I decided that steps should be taken, and I should move in with my grandfather (in the same house where I had once blown bubbles) who had a brain tumor.
And I think of the years after my marriage ended, when I had no marriage and no church and no faith and felt terribly and horribly alone.
Easter is meant to represent the love of a God who wants the best for His children. It is meant to be celebrated accordingly.
But to me? It felt lonely. A celebration for people who had hope when I couldn't recognize it.
Hope, by the way, is a strange creature. It's like a faithful dog. It doesn't leave you -- despite how you may banish it -- and will sneak back into the house, belly low to the ground, because it loves you and wants to be near you. I have (and this is just my experience) found that it comes back, determined and eager, long after there is any justification for its presence. Which is to say this: hope will find you when you no longer know if you can find it. It will nuzzle warmly against your heart and beg for a space in your life even at those moments when you have forgotten all about it.
You may not be able to find it in yourself to embrace it. You might be too tired or too anxious or too sad. Hope won't care.
It will wait for you.
And it will be saying, "You are not ready for me. I get it. But when you are? I will be here and eager to hold you."
The future -- and the present -- and the past, when it comes to it? They don't always resemble what we want them to. That is a fact.
But hope -- who snuggles up and doesn't let go -- reminds us that the best future is a result of outcomes and struggles and learning. It tells us that there is a reason. It tells us that where we have been and where we are will help us to arrive at a glorious and inspired future.
If we believe.
If we can trust.
I am a terrible Christian by the standards of the church I grew up in. Divorced, painfully liberal, headstrong, determined, bossy, disobedient.
For all of that, I feel like I know this to be true: the message of Easter is one of hope. The notion that things can be terrible and seem hopeless -- because what's more terrible and hopeless than being betrayed by the ones you love and left for dead? -- and that despite that, despite everything, despite how bad it looks... You can survive. You can triumph.
You can have hope.
The Christians say that this was God's gift: sacrifice with the hope of salvation.
I think that the gift is the idea that you can be as low as you can possibly be and yet still get up and face the promise of another day.
We can all be knocked down and hurt and defeated.
And still we rise. We all can rise. Every one of us.
That, to me, is the lesson of Easter. That hope and love are the most powerful forces in the world.
We all can rise.