Death cast its specter over Easter this year, stealing the brightness of the Resurrection and the ease of celebration. Lives treasured and too brief were captured unexpectedly by Death and so completed the journey. For those left behind, the journey is just beginning. Hollow, tentative steps into Land of the Bereaved lead to the grayness of desolation and despair. Hope and memory are hidden deep within its secret recesses, tenderly awaiting those who dare the journey. That moment of loss becomes a moment of new beginnings, opens to the suffering and difficulties that life is really all about. There is no denying the fact that living life demands suffering and celebration. It is finding solace and balance between the two, how we navigate the heartbreak and the promise that really matters.
As a Catholic, I believe that each journey matters. In a created world, each of us has a hand in fashioning the reality of the other, being part of the mosaic and the design. I am conscious that what I do and how I do it has an impact on myself and others; I am aware that in the tiny space of my own world, I am simply one among many orbiting others. And yet, I have both role and responsibility. Interacting with respect, communicating with the grace of understanding, believing and trusting in the inherent goodness of others are essential. The tenets of Catholicism and the attendant stories and Scripture remind me that honoring each journey, embracing each person, is what really matters. No matter how long, our time here is brief, and what we do with it matters.
Catholicism, too, teaches me that suffering and hurt are part of every human experience; life is enormously complex and cannot be codified or simplified into less than that. And yet, there are also marvelous sources of comfort and courage to be found in the richness of the world around us. Catholicism reminds me to be attentive to the wren gliding towards the forsythia, to the stars peeking from an inky sky, to the laughter of children and music drifting from one car to another on the highway. There is a richness in linking hands to pray the Lord’s Prayer, to catch the gaze of a sympathetic friend, to pause to breathe deeply. And there is a bond in sharing the Eucharist together in faith.
Easter reminds us of the joys of life and the suffering of death. Catholicism reminds us that our humanity has meaning and purpose, and that we are all profoundly connected through a God and Providence that transcends the pettiness of differences and the quick assessments and judgements made about one another. Catholicism acknowledges that there are multiple pathways in life and so many possibilities. The prayers of Catholicism offer the condolences demnded in confronting death and the compassion needed to live. There is hope in the emptiness of the tomb for the Catholic; there is journey in every increment of time and there is a community continuallly defining and redefining itself in every age.