As we conclude the Lenten journey toward Easter Sunday, Sacred Space brings us a final reflection—from second-year MA in Counseling Psychology student Melissa Yakey—on the mystery and wonder of this season. You can read previous posts about Lent here.
For as long as I can remember, there has been something anticlimactic about Easter. Though we sometimes attended an Episcopal church when I was growing up, I was never taught about the mystery and wonder of Easter or the deep visceral experience of moving through the triduum of Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. Even in this Lenten season, I still find myself struggling with Holy Week Ambivalence.
I grew up in a suburb just outside of Chicago where everyone went to church; it was normal. My experience of the church is that it was not something I believed in or understood, but something that I did. It is a natural setup for ambivalence. Holy Week builds with anticipation: We would show up on Palm Sunday and wave palms for reasons unknown. A priest would wash my feet, and then church on Friday. On Sunday we would wake up to find our Easter baskets full of candy, then I would get into a white Easter dress, ring the bells at church, eat dinner with family, and go to school the next morning as if the entire week did not happen.
Even now as an adult who is part of a local church and in seminary, it is easy for me to fall into the motions of Holy Week. In these days it is easy to be distracted by such things as school, family, and the injustices of the world. However, a question a friend asked me made me stop and think. They wanted to know what I was doing on Easter, and it was quick and easy to respond: “Writing a research paper.” How did it so easily become just another year, another Easter? As the semester comes to a close, we are all managing busyness. In this season especially, it is important to wonder, how is our busyness serving us?
It is within my nature to be a doer. I love to make lists, and I held tightly to the logic that if I do x and y, then z will happen. When I became a Christ follower in high school, I became a doer of Christianity. Imagine the horror I experienced when I read Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline and learned that ‘doing’ is not a spiritual discipline! Deep inside I knew busyness was not working, yet I still wanted to believe that if I read this book, attended these services, joined this Bible study, and served in this ministry, then things would be better, and I would be pleasing to God.
According to Richard Rohr, we have three choices: we can keep doing the same thing with our old mind, we can do a new thing with our old mind, or we can do a new thing with a new mind. This year I am choosing the third option by making space to develop my contemplative mind. Moving through the triduum is full of mystery, wonder, and paradox. The contemplative mind moves us from dual thinking and allows us to embrace and hold mystery.
As a child I did not understand Holy Week, but I did understand wonder. I remember visceral moments of experiencing wonder and awe through the music of church. As I seek to wonder about Easter and experience it deeply this year, I am aware that there are still papers due on the Monday after. However, the things I am contemplating now are different: How can I remain in awe? How can I say “Yes, and…” to the mystery of Easter?