Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Claiming Easter

Exultation of the Cross on Good Friday
Photo by Karen Streveler, OSB
I've been living at Saint Benedict's Monastery now for about nine years. I come from England, so answering God's call to this place meant leaving behind those near and dear to me and things that I was familiar with. I don't regret the choice, but I still have moments of intense homesickness when I feel it isn't possible not to live back at home, not to be with those people on a daily basis, for the rest of my life.

Christmas and Easter have always been particularly difficult times for me. They are, of course, rightly, the times when we are obliged to be with the monastic community. Well, what would a monastic community be, if they didn't celebrate the major events of the liturgical year together? So, no complaints about that. But that doesn't mean it's easy.

However, this Easter, I've noticed a change. Some of it's to do with the fact that if I went to England now, I couldn't fall back into Easter as it was when I left. People there have moved, died and churches have evolved. So this year, I couldn't keep thinking, "If I were in England, I would be doing this now, with this or that person." Well, I could think that some of the time, but not all of it.

The other thing is that this is the tenth Easter I've spent at the monastery and there's now a familiarity about the sequence of how we spend it. There are certain things that I love, like the sung Lamentations of the Prophet Jeremiah on Good Friday and Holy Saturday, and the three-part sung Gospel on Easter morning. Where changes have been introduced, I've been part of the process and, as that's happened, I think I've developed a sense of this becoming "my" Easter. It seems I'm reaching a point where I can look back over the Easters of my life and appreciate all of them for what they are. I've stopped comparing them and finding the present wanting in relation to the past. Instead, I'm grateful for Easters past, and I wouldn't change them for anything, but I'm also grateful for the Easter of the present and grateful to realize that, wherever, and however, and with whomever I celebrate Easter, it still carries the same message - the triumph of love over death.

Karen Rose, OSB

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