The poet Denise Levertov wrote, “The mind’s far edges twitch, sensing kinships beyond reach.” Her words suggest that something about living seems incomplete.

We have soul-appetites fashioned for other places; the mind’s eye seems equipped for landscapes other than those we now see. There are whisperings within of Shangri-La, associated with a dim memory, or is it a place defined by a faith-given hope? Our nostalgia, perhaps looking back as far as Eden, is essentially a harbinger of paradise; it is our longing for that habitation of fulfillment and completion of which John during his imprisonment on the Isle of Patmos dreamed when he wrote toward the end of his life, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.”

AUTHOR G. K. CHESTERTON confirmed this sense of dislocation and its associated hope when he mused: “We have come to the wrong star. That is what makes life at once so splendid and so strange. The true happiness is that we don’t fit. We come from somewhere else.”

Or as anthropologist Loren Eiseley reminded us, “Man is not man. He is elsewhere. There is within us only that dark, divine animal engaged in a strange journey – that creature who, at midnight, knows its own ghostliness and senses its far road.”

JUST SO! It’s no wonder that something within each of us listens with rapt attention to the Easter story. The Good News of Christ’s resurrection triumphantly announces that the world is not one vast graveyard. Though earth-seeded, our “intimations” find confirmation in Christ’s victory over the grave. Death shall not have the final word. By reason of God having raised Jesus from the dead, Christians are unwilling to let go of the fact that the universe, as we can know it, is essentially defined by mystery.

Admittedly, it’s a far distance both in time and mind-set between the gospel’s joyful cry, “He has risen, he is not here” to our Easter Alleluias. Moreover, it is impossible to plumb the facts and fictions of the Easter gospel; nuance and ambiguity shall ever vessel the gospel story. Still, Easter answers to truth-teller Glennon Doyle Melton’s puzzlement when she wrote in her essay “Holy Holes,” “Life is a quest to find an unfindable thing. This is the problem. Life is a bit of a setup. We are put here needing something that doesn’t exist here.”


RESURRECTION FAITH portends unfathomable possibilities; hence the Christian hope of life beyond life. For faith affirms that life is much more than our being caught up in what the poet names “chance’s strange arithmetic.” As Christians, we are persuaded that in spite of all appearances to the contrary we are “valued and embraced” by a loving and merciful Creator God. Death shall not, cannot, limit this love of God for us. It is this that underlies Walt Whitman’s affirming sentence at the end of “A Clear Midnight”: “Night, sleep, death and the stars.”

We make this strange journey under the stars within this unimaginable universe – its origin and purpose transcending human thought.

SO WE HAVE EASTER! Easter is festival time for the church. Easter’s celebratory voice affirms that already –here amid the commonplace doings of our lives – we may participate in God’s eternal life, while death looks on from the sidelines. Easter is a brave waltz in the presence of the brutal facts of a world gone astray. Easter helps us to look upon the dark and frantic realisms of our apocalyptic time without evasion. Easter is not the anticipation of any “brave new world” but an affirmation of God’s redemptive love available to us in time and beyond time.

Easter bears witness to God’s power to bring his purposes for his creation to fulfillment both in this world and in the world to come. Indeed, we are an Easter people – all who have chosen to heed the glad beckoning of that One who said, “… he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24).

It is this incomprehensible joy of Easter that underlies the story of Christianity, for Easter is the assurance that “in the end all shall be well.”

The Rev. Merle G. Steva is minister of visitation emeritus at First Parish Church in Saco.

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