We have risen. The morning rhythms began as they always do with light filtered through the blinds in the room. I awoke two hours earlier, but in the darkness returned to sleep. That has been my rhythm for the past couple of months. But this morning is slightly different; it is Easter.
In our usual pattern, we would slowly emerge from our slumber and get ready to attend church for the morning routines of Sunday School and worship. There would be bright colors and pastels that would match the Easter eggs we had prepared the night before. With children too old to “play” at Easter, we amble through the day with a family meal and photograph. We will do all of those things today but differently this year.
The Easter patterns have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic (20,000 reported deaths in the U.S. as of daily news reports last night). We have spent more time together in the past three weeks together. But we will not spend time with friends in person today. Maybe this change gives us a better sense of what Easter means: the groan of creation to reconciliation. It all begins in darkness.
The tomb is not empty at the beginning of the Easter song. The end of life and the powerful absence of a friend or family member reminds us that life—all life—is fleeting. We cannot celebrate loss before we grieve. Maybe that is what is wrong with the past month, grief comes in many forms, but we don’t name them all. But in the darkness Life moves. We don’t always remember that in the beginning was darkness and the breath of heaven separated day from night. We see light as the beginning, but there is movement in the darkness. In the stillness, God’s presence reveals itself even as we continue to point to the grandness of that presence. The groaning of reconciliation begins while we sleep. Maybe that is why we stir in the darkness: looking for the movement. As dawn breaks, we see anew in filtered light that God is not finished with creation. Easter breaks forth whatever the circumstances. We must be prepared to look for it the same way the women did when they went to the tomb in the darkness of the early morning.