“Yes, life is the uppermost – resurrection life, radiant and joyful and strong – for we represent down here Him who liveth and was dead and is alive forevermore. , , Oh let us not dim it by a shadow of morbidness or of gloom. He is not a god of the dead, but a God of the living and He would have us let the glory of His gladness shine out.” Parables of the Cross
He is risen!
He is risen indeed!
After darkness, light. After death, life. Resurrection life! Easter words of affirmation, trumpet fanfare, choral and congregational jubilation are now memory. Lilies a lingering scent. But we continue to live in the glory of His gladness. Resurrection joy! Christ is risen!
Even as I reflect on the weeks of preparation leading up to Calvary I can’t help but note how the Lenten season reflects the seasons of the soul. There are periods of time, often beyond our control, when frankly life is difficult. Whether short spurts of struggle or unrelenting seasons of suffering, the state of the soul is the same: Lenten-somber.
Furthermore, there are times when we choose to go deeper into the mystery of our psyche. We may recognize the need to face some inner demon and reckon with the source of our malaise. We may, at long last, be ready to face a particular limitation of our character revealed, perhaps, by the very challenges that dogged us. Or, moved by the example of the suffering Christ, we may have chosen to “die” to the bondage of attitudes or behaviors that shackle our souls and separate us from fellowship with Him – or usefulness for Him.
It was the latter that Lilias addressed in The Parables of the Cross: a “dying” that “must come upon all that would hinder God’s working through us – all interests, all impulses, all energies that are ‘born of the flesh’ – all that is merely human and apart from His Spirit.” Lilias, recognizing how subtly such introspection can lapse into “morbidness” or “gloom,” was quick to point out that this kind of death is a gateway – not a dwelling place. A gateway to life.
Yes, the resurrection life is “radiant and joyful and strong.” Any other “habit of being” (to quote Flannery O’Connor) is contradictory to God’s intention for our lives. Certainly, like the seasons of preparation of the church, we have spells – even seasons – of darkness. We must courageously descend into them, embrace what they tell us about ourselves, then allow them to point us to God to work His alchemy in our souls. His refining and purifying processes.
C. S. Lewis wrote: “Joy is the serious business of Heaven.” It is the serious business of earth as well. A warm-up exercise. During Christ’s farewell prayer for His disciples in the Upper Room, He asked His Father “that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.” (John 17:13) “He is… a God of the living and He would have us let the glory of His gladness shine out.”
He is risen!
He is risen, indeed!
Painting: Travel Journal, 1893