Spirituality for Today – April 2014 – Volume 18, Issue 9

An Easter State of Mind

Rev. Raymond K. Petrucci

A photo of and old cemetery

Crosses of palm and arrangements of lilies adorn granite markers in cemeteries across the land. Winter has faded into spring; Lent has given itself up to Easter; spiritually and emotionally a different feeling has taken hold. Family members and friends of the deceased make a pilgrimage to the final resting place of their loved ones. In my mind, I recall the angel speaking to Mary Magdalene as she also was making such a visit: "Why do you seek the living among the dead?" On this later Easter morning, why do so many seek the living among the buried bodies of those once dead? Easter is the celebration of life conquering death and love and mercy overcoming weakness and sin. Yet, it is fitting for mortal beings to return to that sacred place where they left the remains of those whom they loved. Amid the various memories of a life and a death, those living celebrate, in their prayers, the hope that only an Easter faith can bring.

Immortality has been a dream for both believers and non-believers alike. Millions of dollars in grants have been awarded to scientists who search for the elixir containing the secret of immortality. Although the reason for making an earthly existence never-ending eludes me, a vast amount of energy and resources are dedicated to achieving it. If accomplished, however, what a conundrum would result. If all seven billion people on earth today were to live forever, one would surmise that any new arrivals would wish to live forever too. How long would it take to exhaust all reasonable space and sustainable food, water, and shelter. No new births would be allowed. Life on earth would incorporate the same individuals for all time. Artistic and scientific innovation would be stifled; forms of entertainment and recreation would become eternally limited and repetitive. Eventually, everyone would become sick and tired of relating to each other – and only to each other.

Ironically, the problem has been solved for two thousand years. The Resurrection of Christ introduced the gift of eternal life to all who believe and hope in Christ. Additionally, eternity is not designed for a precious few or to be experienced in a closed universe. Heaven is beyond human description and, indeed, beyond the powers of human imagination. One may conjecture that heaven is a place, or a state of being that is creative and active in the expression of pure love. Often referred to in terms of the Beatific Vision, heaven would encompass the view of the totality of the divine. From this point on, human language stumbles hopelessly in both the description and the appreciation of the divine experience. If one wishes to speculate, heaven's effect might include feelings that are familiar and comfortable but deeper than familiarity, warm and loving but at a depth unimaginable, alive but a sense of being alive that is indescribable, and joyful but complete and eternal. Perhaps, it would be best to accept God's assurance that heaven is beyond the puny capabilities of human thought.

One important indicator or lesson can be derived from the example of entering eternal life provided by Jesus of Nazareth – God and man: live with faith, courage, and perseverance in the face of every challenge and hardship. Founded in the fact that once God shared the experience of living in this world. The Gospel narrative relates the life of Jesus wrapped in familial joy as well as struck with harsh toil. Jesus knew the struggle of trying to bring the truth and the way of right living to a fickle and often hostile crowd. He reached the heights of human acclaim and the depths of human rejection. Even though one may know the meaning of frustration, emotional stress, misunderstanding, and violence, no one is able to grasp the fullness and horror that Jesus knew. If not for the Resurrection, the life of Jesus would be a story evoking the deepest lamentations in the thoughtful and in the good.

I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.

Booker T. Washington

On this bright and breezy Easter Sunday, I walk the pathway, passing the engraved names of so many men and women who have lived and loved and died. Finally, I arrive before the resting places of those who belong to me, now in prayer and memory. I look down upon their graves, cross myself, and utter the words and feel the feelings that make a prayer. A unique state of mind overcomes me, a state of thought and emotion particular to Easter – a feeling of eternal longings satisfied, a feeling of life and life eternal.

May the fullest blessings of this Easter Season comfort you in its joy.
From all us of at Clemons Productions