The title for this post is a small lie as I type this first line at 12:03am of Saturday morning. So, accurately speaking, yesterday was Good Friday. The beginning of Easter weekend. A day traditionally marked by somber religious ceremonies about alienation, betrayal, and death.
The title for this post is a larger truth addressed by the great American preacher and civil-rights leader SM Lockridge. Here’s a link to the pertinent audio. It’s just over a three minute clip and well worth the listen: sermonaudio.com/sermon/412171356329
After doggedly updating this blog in weekly fashion since launching in November, I let the entire month of March pass without a single update. March was a difficult month and each week as it came time to write something I found myself vacillating between posting a social-media-ready cheery lie and posting a belly-button-gazing tale of self pity. Neither seemed right and so I chose silence.
While there were many things to celebrate and be grateful for this March, the month as a whole felt like 31 days of isolation, fatigue, and despair.
Looking back over the past 25-ish years of ‘adulthood’ that’s been a pretty consistent annual rhythm for me. Early in my career as an educator, March is when I would consider making a career change. Pursued by fears I had made the wrong choice in becoming a teacher, I’d consider a return to school for a law or medical degree, or a retreat from academia for something more hands on such as remodeling and flipping houses, fire fighting, or law enforcement. I almost always found reasons to talk myself into sticking with teaching, although my annual March glooms sometimes did lead to shifts in how or where I would teach.
While there is certainly something in my environment that makes March my month of greatest gloom (the beautiful pacific northwest gets really stingy with sunlight every winter and March is the final chapter in that long march of twilight), there’s also something in my nature. In my character, and in my choices. Just about every March I imprison my heart and my mind to regrets about historic stuff I can’t change and despair that I can’t see a productive way forward. I alienate myself from the communities I am devoted to, I betray the routines and procedures I’ve established in pursuit of excellence, and I hunker down and try to endure the death of youthful dreams.
And every March, that ends and April begins. The days get longer. The sun begins to reintroduce itself to our region. Spring Break and Easter beckon. And the miasma lifts. Hope springs and Sunday arrives.
I have always found inspiration in the stories and themes of Easter. I can feel the despair of Good Friday because I have such recent (every March, remember?) sense memories of what it feels like to be without hope due to the alchemy of my own poor choices, the villainy of others, and the fact that every story seems to need a dark night of the soul. I can feel the hope of Sunday because I have such recurring experiences with the way the air smells on a sunny morning after a night of rain. The way my insides buzz from the unexpected kindness of a stranger or, better, a long-lost friend. The pep I get back in my step when I get up off the mat one more time.
The Easter story is beautiful in its complexity and terrifying in its simplicity. For the past couple thousand years, we’ve been twisting the Easter story to subjugate, oppress, and pillage. We’ve also been looking to the Easter story to help us awaken, resist, and renew. I’d like to share more about some ideas and resources I’ve found useful in my own awakenings and renewals in next week’s post.