Thursday, April 28, 2011

Easter Astonishment

In her book, The Writing Life, the poet and essayist Annie Dillard gives this advice to would-be writers: "You were made and set here to give voice to this, your own astonishment." Journalist Krista Tippet suggests in an interview with biologist Katy Payne that this could be a good definition for vocation (Kristia Tippet, On Being, March 31, 2011).

I couldn't help but think about this during Holy Week and the Easter Liturgy at the monastery. We were plunged once again into the central mystery of our Christian faith: Jesus lived, was crucified, was buried and was raised from the dead. This resurrection is different from those who have been brought back from the dead, as for instance in the case of Lazarus. No, this is not resuscitation; it is instead a whole new way of being.

The witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus were astonished. And as we celebrated those holy days we, too, were astonished and exulted in foot washing, honoring the cross, lighting the fire, exulting in the Easter candle, full-throated song, water, incense, color, flowers, and the exuberance of the community of monastics, women, men and children.

Now each of us who celebrated these holy days must give voice to our astonishment. We do this by the way we live out the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. It is a message of inclusive love and forgiveness, of healing of broken bonds, of living in peace and justice. It is living in faith when our faith is pressed to the limit; living in hope when things seem hopeless, and loving those we find loveable and those whom it is hard to love. I say that this is our baptismal and human vocation.

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