easter hope(less)

ring the bells that still can ring

it’s easter week. a little hard to believe because it seems like yesterday we were talking about christmas and how hard it can be. i am one of those people who like easter. even though my faith has shifted in all kinds of ways, the beauty and power of the resurrection story resonates deeply in my heart. embracing life as a series of fridays-saturdays-and-sundays has helped me over the years and i think that being born again and again is part of our ongoing work to become better human beings and less divided.

at the same time, i realize this time of year is so freaking hard for so many people.

i wrote when easter is hard in about 30 minutes last year and it stirred up a lot of strong feelings. this holiday used to be so many people’s very favorite, the trophy of a strong and vibrant faith.  then, when things fell part and the pillars of our faith crumbled, it has become a place of pain & sorrow & loneliness.

for many,

it feels like a party’s going on that we’re no longer invited to.

we can’t sing the songs because we don’t even know what those words mean anymore.

we know we can’t just go sit in church and listen to a salvation message because we might crawl out of our skin.

we are 100% sure we won’t be responding with “he is risen, indeed” because it feels forced.

we won’t be on facebook on sunday because we will be perpetually annoyed.

we want to feel hope & joy & life but we aren’t sure it comes through this holiday anymore and don’t want to fake it.

we have family members who are praying for us to come to church with them this sunday and we want to honor them but at the same time aren’t quite sure we can stomach it.

some have let go of Jesus in ways that used to feel so good and kind of miss him.

many others are trying to hold on to Jesus in a pure & authentic way but all of the hubub around easter is messing with that.

some are lonely.

some are tired.

and so many would love to feel the stirrings of new life again.

we’re all in different places on this and i am sure you could add so many other things to the list. as a pastor on the fringes, i always feel the crazy tension of this week and am glad to be part of a community that somehow does the best it can to celebrate resurrection and respect that so many of us are in weird places on it. at the same time, i know that many refuge friends sit in our wild & crazy church and feel the same feelings on that list.

easter is just really hard when we’re in the midst of or on the other end of a faith shift.

the earth has tilted and we are wobbling to find our space and our bearings.

part of the easter story is the promise of new life. that out of death & suffering & lament, new life emerges. i believe that story is being told in so many right now–our faith stripped away, we are living in the darkness and grief of all that was lost.  it can seem like a perpetual winter, like we’re stuck in friday’s death & saturday’s lament.  

but here’s what i truly believe in every part of my soul–spring will come.

spring is coming.

we may not feel it yet. the ground is still hard and frozen, but underneath the surface are seeds that are growing in the darkness. seeds of a free-er faith, seeds of a simpler faith, seeds of hope that God is bigger than we have been taught, seeds of life and hope and joy and mercy and love and peace and courage and beauty.

our shoots all pop up at different times and in different ways.

for some, easter isn’t as hard this year as it was the last. that’s something to celebrate!  for others, the shoots are so fragile, and you need to be extra gentle with yourself and tend carefully to the beautiful & tender hope that is trying to emerge. and for others, it just feels so freaking sad and you’re reading this thinking that winter will last forever.

we have a saying at the refuge that my dear friend tami coined–sometimes when we don’t have hope, we have to borrow it from each other.  this easter, if you are hanging on by a thread, my hope to lend is that it won’t always feel this hard.

i never expect that people will be able to sit in an easter service without breaking out in hives, although that’s definitely a bonus.

but my persistent hope is that over time all of us would feel more alive, more free, more loved, more loving, more connected, more peace, more passion, more hope, more resurrection over time.

yeah, i do believe easter always comes, in unique & surprising & unexpected & beautiful ways, but maybe not with all the hoop-la and bells and whistles, and probably not only on march 31st.   there are 364 other days in the year, and i’m really glad for that.

my heart is with you as you grieve what has died, as you celebrate what is starting to coming to life, as you thaw and find your way through this season.

with love and hope, kathy

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver and is the author of Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

24 Comments

  • This gave me tears. I am being tested for cancer this week and am loosing hope in the good. This is also true for me since we have not attended services in years… I love that but always feel a bit lost at this time of the year. Thanks for sharing;)

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  • Thank you. You say the words to me that I am unable to speak to anyone else. This is Easter not Halloween, I know, but sometimes this and other wonderful celebrations require that I wear a mask so that I will not rain on the parades others are enjoying…

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  • Similar to last Easter, we plan to take ham and cheese sandwiches, water, chips and fruit to share with our homeless friends on Easter day. We find hope among those who we might think would have none. “Happy Easter” they tell us.

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  • Thank you Kathy for sharing your hope 🙂 I don’t know how you do it, but this is so spot on! This helps so much in my journey. I do love Jesus but it’s good to know I’m not totally alone in wanting to “crawl out of my skin” on Easter. Having family pray for me is a spot they never envisioned they’d be in – they are so worried, shocked, and their secure “plans” in how they raised their children & of who they married aren’t working out like they wanted.

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  • I’m a recovering Pastors Kid and I just want to say Thank you so much. This is exactly what I’m feeling but have not been able to express. From the deepest part of my heart….Thank you.

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  • Hmm….my emotions are mixed this tear. Up until today, I was not planning was content with the idea that I was just going to stay home and probably watch some new movies I got….
    But today, while working, I though maybe I might enjoy going to a Good Friday Mass at the loca Catholic Church (those who knew my upbring would be shocked & most of my family would disapprove). But….I got off work and was just fried….
    Gut while still at work, I was thinking of Jesus and that Sunday morning so long ago. And seeing, in my mind, him standing there in the garden and Mary just wanting to fall at him feet and cling to him. And I almost broke down. This is all I’ve ever really wanted. To just sit at his feet and hold on…to jusy be with him. This is so deep in me it hurts if I spend too much time there…
    Happy Easter, Kathy. May we all sit at peace in his presence….

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    • Not sure why this posted the draft as well as the proofed one….

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  • Hmm….my emotions are mixed this year. Up until today, I was not
    planning on going anywhere was content with the idea that I was just going to stay home
    and probably watch some new movies I got….
    But today, while
    working, I thought maybe I might enjoy going to a Good Friday Mass at the
    local Catholic Church (those who knew my upbring would be shocked &
    most of my family would disapprove). But….I got off work and was just
    fried….
    But while still at work, I was thinking of Jesus and that
    Sunday morning so long ago. And seeing, in my mind, him standing there
    in the garden and Mary just wanting to fall at his feet and cling to
    him. And I almost broke down. This is all I’ve ever really wanted. To
    just sit at his feet and hold on…to just be with him. This is so deep in me it hurts if I spend too much time there…
    Happy Easter, Kathy. May we all sit at peace in his presence….

    Reply
    • thanks so much for taking time to share jeanette. yesterday i read the story of the sinful woman at simon the pharisee’s house in luke 7. one of my all time favorites and your words reminded me of that beautiful story, that beautiful scene, that beautiful reminder of love. sending lots of easter hugs from across the mountains.

      Reply
  • I know you know my/our story…I’m in better place than I was a few years back. I am satisfied with plans to do nothing ‘traditional’…’habitual’…or “innovative (!!!)” this week especially. Like last year, our family will go hiking in northern AZ, somewhere open…expansive…green…and refreshing this weekend…Maybe even on Easter Sunday. It’s great family time…and for me mostly spiritual in a non specific way…liberating.
    BUT…there’s a caveat…I still struggle when I hear my kids (13, 15, 20 &21) ‘dis’ the Easter story…(or the Christmas story) as literally unbelievable or bunk….somehow…that always makes me feel uncomfortable and sad…

    Reply
  • Been humming Gungor’s ‘Beautiful things’ all morning long. Jesus is always making us new, every day. But there’s that blasted dying first. A very poignant post.

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