In the Easter story, notice the ways the lord Jesus is made known following his resurrection. To the disciples on the road to Emmaus, he is made known by the breaking of bread. To Mary at the tomb, he is made known by the sound of his voice speaking her name. To Thomas, who could not believe without seeing and touching, Jesus is made known by his wounds and his scars. To the disciples upon the sea, he makes himself known telling them to cast their nets upon the right side of the boat. He makes himself known by the word of peace, and the breath of spirit.
In our own life, the divine is incarnate through the word of a friend, the mindful gaze upon the lunar light, the verdant green of a forest, the mystical wash of the ocean, the star illumined nightfall in the desert, the emergent bloom of a spring bulb. The divine is incarnate through the telling of story, the presence of hope and strength in the midst of trouble, a deep peace in sickness, a faithful friend, a sustained silence and solitude, an unexpected visit.
The divine is incarnate through a work of art, the sound of a piece of music, the answer to a prayer, a patience in long-waiting, the aura of a sanctuary, the majesty of a mountain, the beauty of simplicity, a fulfillment in little, a timely gift of help, a gentle touch of grace.
The message of Easter is all about the revelations and incarnations of the divine in the midst of living, even in the wake — especially in the wake–, of painful and horrific events. Easter is about our lives being resurrected, revived, restored, redirected because of real and transformative encounters with the presence and love and companionship of God in Christ, through incarnations, the sacraments, the visible manifestations of the invisible graces, beauty, and love from the unseen, but unavoidable divine presence of God within and around us.
In the Gospel story, Easter comes to the characters following traumatic and grievous events. What is it about suffering, struggle, pain, and even death that awakens our senses to that which has been with us from the beginning? What is it about losing someone that makes us more keenly aware of how precious and important they were? Why in absence, is their presence most keenly felt? Perhaps, the very nature of suffering and loss is to open our eyes to the deep realities we miss when all is well. Perhaps it is when we are making our way through the dark times our eyes adjust to see the hidden depths in and around us? All I know is it makes sense that Easter follows the dark days of Good Friday, because when we enter the times of bearing our own cross of suffering and loss and death, old things pass away behold new life and awareness is discovered.
The purpose and place for spiritual guidance and discipline is to inspire and equip us to cultivate the soul life in the midst of our every days. The sacraments of God, abundant throughout the creation, are there for our eyes to see, our ears to hear, our hands to touch, and our tongues to taste, every day – everywhere. God’s graces, love, and healing fill God’s sanctuary that is this fragile earth, our island home. God’s sacraments fill the cosmos, the infinite space we cannot comprehend. Sacred scriptures from all traditions admonish us to not fill our lives with the temporal treasures or troubles, but to cultivate and remain in relationship to God, in Christ, in whom all move and breathe and have their being, and discover our connection and identity in all that is! It is through our mindful intention and attention that our eyes are opened, through the simple act of breaking bread with others. Our ears can hear the music of the lakes as well as the cries beneath the safe talk. Our hands can touch the soul of the land, as well as provide a healing hand of prayer. Our tongues can taste the sweetness of words that bring clarity and creativity and inspiration to those who are listening.
Can it be so simple that the fullness and abundance of life has been missed for so long, simply because our nets have been cast on the wrong side of the boat? I mean, can life be so different by simply changing the way we look at it? Much of Jesus’ teaching was on how we spend our time, our thoughts, and our resources. By shifting our focus from our unhappiness and inadequacies to the gifts that we have, the relationships we share, the generosity we have received, and the favor that has been ours, life dramatically fills up with blessing and joy, when it seemed empty. Suddenly, our eyes are open to God’s presence and love all around us.
There is a growing sense of emptiness in our world today. People working long and hard, doing all they can but still aching with emptiness. Culture wars keep us divided and embittered toward those who we perceive different then us. What must we do to experience the fullness of life again? What can open our eyes to the wonder, attune our ears to the music, satisfy our hunger for meaning? Perhaps we consider the bounty of goodness and life available on the other side. Because, that was all Jesus told them to do. All night their efforts had been invested on just one side of the boat, try lowering your nets on the opposite side to and see what awaits you there.
In all these Easter gospel accounts, it was subtle and ordinary things that awoke their ability to see the risen Jesus in their midst. That is our prayer today for ourselves, and for our world. O God, whose son was made known to his disciples by the breaking of the bread, by the sound of a name, by the touch of a wound, by casting their nets on the other side, do in our lives and in our time those things that open the eyes of our faith that we may once again see the wonder of Christ’s redeeming grace and presence.