For so many Easters of my young life, my siblings and I (and our cousins who lived in the apartment above us) would discover sunglasses in each of our Easter baskets.
Seldom were these ordinary, boring sunglasses. They were bright-colored, novelty glasses. Typically, some ornate figure or image (flowers or cowboy boots for the boys) would be at the corners of the stems. We spent most of Easter afternoon running around the yard, searching for hidden Easter eggs, assisted, of course, by the fact that we had new sunglasses with which to help us see!
This wonderful image of children’s faces half covered by silly sunglasses, basking in the sunshine of an Easter afternoon came back to me when I encountered an Easter Taizé-like chant, composed by Barbara Bridge**:
“O Risen Christ, Light Within Us,
Your radiant light dispels the darkness
May you Easter in us,
Be a dayspring to the dimness of us
Be our crimson-crested east, Alleluia.”
Based on a portion of the Gerard Manley Hopkins poem, Wreck of the Deutschland,* this little chant verse, with its talk of light that dispels the darkness, and its promise that the Easter dayspring we celebrate will help rid us of our own dimness, made me wonder if the sunglasses I received as a child could serve as a reminder of my own light within and the light each of us bears.
As if finding the Gerard Manley Hopkins poem wasn’t enough, I providentially stumbled upon this quote from Thomas Merton:
“I have the immense joy of being a [human being], a member of a race in which God became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”
Can I, can we, in the words of Merton, realize that we are all walking around shining like the sun?
Perhaps that’s how the followers of Jesus experienced him after the Resurrection. Or, at the very least, that’s how they felt about their encounter with the resurrected Christ. The sadness, the dimness they felt was lifted. Their belief in the light empowered them to go forth. They were all walking around shining like the sun.
To be sure, this Lenten season has been marked by its share of dimness. The memory of the violence of the Stoneman Douglas
High School shooting lingers. The violence of families being separated through deportation is being felt as a regular reality in a nation that has grown strong because of its immigrants. Even the threat of violence from weather patterns run amuck because of our misuse of creation’s resources looms heavy with every storm, flood, mudslide that has been reported.
Poet and priest Gerard Manley Hopkins challenges us to see Easter as a verb. “Let him [Christ] Easter in us.” In reflecting upon this, 20th-century theologian Frederick Buechner has said, “Easter the noun, a resurrection is a 2000-year-old event, a lovely and powerful and even miraculous event. As a verb, it changes lives, sets a course for history, gives a direction to any willing heart.”
Where might that direction take us — to a march against gun violence, to a rally against deportation of dreamers and their families, to a new commitment to care of our Earth, to the well-being of children, of women being abused, of prisoners, of those I see every day near and far? How will I/we let Christ Easter in us so that our light moves from the inside out?
I see now that my Lenten work has only begun. I need to don my sunglasses and walk into the resurrected light that God makes available to all of us. May we be that crimson-crested East to each other, to all of creation.