We were planning to go to church for Easter. We talked about where we wanted to visit, what time we’d need to get going, and because I have a little bit of girly in me, I’d even picked out what I wanted to wear. I’m having a hard time getting back to church, but missing Easter is just unheard of, so I had asked Rich if we could make it a point to find a service we could attend.
The week leading up to Easter was difficult. Lots of learning how to mesh with our respective families, lots of driving, more grief with the passing of my grandmother. Of course there were a number of good moments that occurred, but the week was marked with stress. Saturday night we went out to dinner and a movie with some friends, and by the time we got home, I was completely drained. I set an alarm on my phone to make sure we could be awake in time to shower and drive to worship service we had chosen, but the hours between setting it and when it would wake me seemed like too few.
When I awoke in the morning, before my alarm of course, I didn’t want to go to church. It didn’t feel like Easter to me. Despite a restful sleep, I was still worn out from the week, and the prospect of putting on a happy face and participating in a sort of forced celebration just because it was a particular day in the Church calendar. I messed around on my phone for a bit, while I waited for Rich to wake up and debated starting the process of getting ready for church.
As I waited, I went back and forth. I don’t want to stay away from the church out of fear of what other people will say or think. I don’t to run my emotional temperature based strictly on what I think will be most acceptable to the greatest number of people. But it felt hard to determine if going or not going was trying to please others. I wasn’t feeling particularly joyful or excited that morning, just tired and confused. Trying to wedge that into an Easter celebration felt like it was going to be more exhausting than exuberant.
When Rich woke, I asked if he wanted to go to church, and after a moment, he admitted that he wasn’t feeling much like it, and asked if I still wanted to. In that moment, I realized that I wanted to want to go to church, but I didn’t actually want to go. I shook my head, a few tears in my eyes, and then let out a sigh, as I settled back under the covers.
As Christians, we often think of Easter as a day of joy. But the first Easter wasn’t joyful for all of Jesus’s followers. The news of the resurrection took time to unfold. John and Peter weren’t able to send a tweet, alerting everyone to the empty tomb. Mary was unable to post a selfie of her and Jesus to prove he was alive. The news traveled slowly, meaning that for some, Easter was another day of mourning, another day of loss, another day of disbelief.
Jubilation certainly makes sense in the context of the Church calendar, but as individuals, it can be difficult. When we feel as though we have to be experiencing Easter with one particular kind of emotion, the purpose of the joy can be missed.
I wanted to feel joy on Easter, but the way that I found joy wasn’t through exuberant music and bright flowers.
For me, joy was subtle.
Joy was found in planning our menu for the week.
Joy was found in the tiny purple violets beside the path of the rail trail where we walked.
Joy was found in hand-cut french fries and profiteroles stuffed with homemade pastry cream.
Joy was found in hand holding and dream sharing.
I know that there will be days of music and flowers ahead. I look forward to Easters when I can sing songs of resurrection and new life at the top of my voice.
I also know that there will be days of sadness and mourning at Easter. When everything is dark and the light feels like a punishment rather than a relief.
No matter what kind of Easter it is, I want to accept it.
For now, I will embrace the joy of violets and profiteroles.