Tag Archives: Spirit

Why I’ve started to dislike Easter

I think Easter is supposed to be the cornerstone holiday of Christianity, at least that’s what I grew up thinking in my Evangelical upbringing. After all, Jesus died to pay the price for all our sins and then he rose again, finalizing it and making it clear that God approved of the sacrifice. It’s a great opportunity to remind us all how important it is remember our sins and to commit our lives to him and to believe that he really did do this for us.

I don’t really like going to church on Easter anymore. I mean, I’ve heard this same message a hundred times… Easter doesn’t make it any more real to me. I just end up feeling like the pastor is using the opportunity of a packed church and a suffering savior to get more commitments to follow Jesus. But I don’t think there was anything in Jesus’ death and resurrection that was saying believe that I did this and you will go to heaven. There was nothing in his death and resurrection accounts where he said follow me and make me your God.

I also don’t really like working in the hospital on Easter. I have done this the last two years. Last year, I spent most of the day with a family of 30 or more relatives waiting to hear whether a 14 year old boy, who had a completely unexpected stroke, was going to die. And prayed with a man who held his newborn child who had died in delivery. This year, I had to talk with a family whose father and husband, most likely dying from full body shut down, after the doctors found a softball size tumor on his last day of checkups after pushing through metastasized melanoma. We talked about letting go, about grieving, about the fact that he might not go home.

If I had to choose between the hospital and church on Easter, I think I would choose the hospital. To me it feels closer to real life and rings truer to what Easter is all about. Granted, God’s presence is as present at church as it is in the hospital, but in the hospital people have to wrestle with it more… and God’s presence, the work of Christ in the universe, the person of Jesus should be wrestled with. Always, and without exception. I guess I’m just not into “Hurray for Jesus” anymore. I’m not into easy answers, or sealed in blood, or done-deal salvation. If Jesus is the “blue-print,” as Richard Rohr often mentions, if he is the full representation of God, or the ultimate archetype of truth in the universe, his death and resurrection are not a series of facts that must be believed for eternal salvation. His death and resurrection are not a story to be told with much theatrics and passion with the hopes of getting a few more Christians to add to the Book of Life.

If Jesus truly is the revelation of the Divine in humanity, his death and resurrection are a cosmological statement that says, “See, this is what God is like. Death happens. It is a necessary part of human life, it is a necessary part of the spiritual life. And when we die, God comes through with hope and new life. It has been this way, it is this way, and it always will be this way. If you are afraid to die, you will not face the new life.” My sin did not put Jesus on the cross. The reality of life put Jesus on the cross, just as reality of life raised him from the grave. And is it a unquestionable proven fact that he rose? No. But then again, sometimes archetypes say more about truth than fact does anyway.

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On speaking our truth in spiritual direction

We must be perfectly open and simple, without prejudices and without artificial theories about ourselves. We must learn to speak according to our own inner truth, as far as we can perceive it. We must learn to say what we really mean in the depths of our soul, not what we think we are expected to say, not what somebody else has just said. And we must be prepared to take responsibility for our desires, and accept the consequences…

True simplicity implies love and trust – it does not expect to be derided and rejected, any more than it expects to be admired and praised. It simply hopes to be accepted on its own terms. This is the kind of atmosphere which a good director tries to produce: an atmosphere of confidence and friendliness in which the [directee] can say anything that is on his [or her] mind with the assurance that it will be dealt with frankly and honestly… Anything he or she says that is genuine, that really comes from the heart, will be understood and accepted by a wise director. Such real, genuine aspiration of the heart are sometimes very important indications of the will of God for that soul – and sometimes they must be sacrificed.

This gives us a clue to what the director is really seeking to find out from us. He does not merely want to know our problems, our difficulties, our secrets. And that is why one should not think that a direction session that does not tackle a problem has not been a success. The director wants to know our inmost self, our real self. He wants to know us not as we are in the eyes of men, or even as we are in our own eyes, but as we are in the eyes of God. He wants to know the inmost truth of our vocation, the action of grace in our souls. His direction is, in reality, nothing more than a way of leading us to see and obey our real Director – the [Spirit of the Divine], hidden in the depths of our soul. We must never for get that in reality we are not directed and taught by men, and that if we need human “direction” it is only because we cannot, without man’s help, come into contact with that “anointing (of the Spirit) which teaches us all things.” (1 John 2:20)

Thomas MertonSpiritual Direction & Meditation