I was watching them play today. Watching them race for colored plastic eggs, watching them shake the dogwood blossoms off of the trees and dance in them as they fell to the ground. Watching them. Loving them. Admiring them in all of their Innocence – wishing that innocence would never be further away from them as it is today.
This day. This Day of Newness. Of Freshness. Of Resurrection. Of New Beginnings. I was thinking in worship tonight how this has become, possibly, my favorite holiday. I often say that the Ending must End for the Beginning to Begin. But I find we are often so afraid to allow the Ending of Something - that we can’t find the Beginning of what God has for us. You see, you can’t hold on to both. You have to let go of one to find the other.
The Passion of the Christ. The Lord’s story of sacrifice on a Hollywood screen. I remember my family going to see it together. I had never seen my dad cry so hard. We all had different reactions to what we saw when Jesus was being scourged. My father wanted to just fight for the Lord. To stand up for Him. My brother said he was almost numb. His heart was so overwhelmed that he didn’t even know what to do with it all. Me? I kept thinking one thing and one thing only. “That should be me. I should be taking that beating. Me. They should be whipping me.”
I was in the middle of one of the darkest times of life and had broken practically every one of the Ten Commandments – the Big Ones. At that time, having just gone through a shameful divorce and ending a painful marriage – I was broken in about as many pieces as I could be. Depression gave way to anxiety depending on the hour. Not living sounded much more enticing than I would like to admit. And I remember this day. This One day. Lying on my sister’s bed, I remember having to choose. I remember talking to myself and telling myself that I had to make a choice – I was either going to live or I was going to die. I was either going to see myself through the eyes of man, or through the eyes of my Lord. I was either going to give up or fight. I chose to fight. But I had to re-choose to fight to live many times over since that day. Over and over. I had to choose to change. To change how I was looking for happiness. To move. To grow. To learn. To do something other than what I was doing because what I was doing was only causing pain to me and to others. Thank God I am on the other side of it now! Why am I being so open? Because all of us get second chances, we just have to know when to take them.
What does all of this have to do with Easter and my nieces and nephew playing in dogwood blossoms? Everything. My favorite scene in The Passion of The Christ is not a scene at all. It’s actually simply a moment. A moment that gives way to words. Jesus had fallen and fallen under the weight of the cross. Bloody. Bruised. Broken. He can barely stand – let alone carry this weight. Along the journey, Mary follows. Crowd chanting and yelling and crying. Soldiers pushing and prodding and spitting. Mary – following in the distance, in the shadows….. and running…. and following. Trying to get a glimpse. A desperate glimpse into his eyes to tell him one thing: “I am here, my son!” Her face becomes more and more desperate as she follows from the outskirts of the crowd. Unable to get close to Him. Just wanting to get close to Him. His walk becomes weaker and weaker. But it all comes to a peak at One Moment.
He begins to fall to the ground in slow motion…. Not far from her. She runs to Him…..Quickly. As she runs, she has a flashback of Jesus at around 4 years old. He is falling and crying. She is running to him to console him as a young mother. The flashback ends, and they meet on the ground as he falls and she tries to catch his eye. He looks up among the chaos around him and they are face to face. She looks at him as if to say “Why my son? Why this way? Why aren’t you stopping this? Why?" He says Seven words to her. 7 words:
“See, Mother? I make all things new…”
As if to say: “Do you see? Are you proud of me, Mother? Do you see now? Do you understand?”
Do you? See? Do We? Understand?
It’s about Dancing in Dogwood Blossoms. It’s about the newness of Spring and being brave enough to take second chances. To change the direction we are looking for happiness. To do something different. To finally, once and for all, put the past behind us and forgive – ourselves and him and her and them. To finally, today, say: I can be resurrected. I can Live Again. To die to self and bury our own will to rise on the wings of eagles and fly into what He has for us. Realizing it may look nothing like our hopes or dreams or wishes. But that’s ok. Maybe it’s not about getting what we want or life being the way we always thought it would be. Maybe its about knowing when to take second chances and praising Him for giving us that opportunity.
And MAYBE just maybe….
It’s about Dancing in Dogwood Blossoms. Just because we can: )