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Easter 2018 reflection

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

Dawn at the motherhouse of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

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.

*Text: Quotation by Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ; The Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins, Copyright 1967, Oxford University Press, London.
**Additional text: Barbara Bridge, Copyright 2004, Barbara Bridge.
Published by OCP Publications.  All rights reserved.  Reprinted under OneLicense.net #A-702950.

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Sister Dawn Tomaszewski

Sister Dawn Tomaszewski was elected General Superior of the Sisters of Providence in 2016. She has been a Sister of Providence since 1975. Previously she ministered as a teacher, as communication and development director for the sisters and their ministries and as a member of elected leadership on the general council of the Sisters of Providence.

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7 Comments

  1. Bobbi on March 28, 2018 at 12:00 am

    Oh Sister, how beautiful. Praise our risen Christ!

  2. Peg Benson on March 28, 2018 at 12:00 am

    What a gift your reflections are, Dawn. Thank you.
    In the ‘Fifties, everyone gave up candy, especially chocolate. In Chicago, we were blessed with Fannie May stores within walking distance and my mother planted one of the large cream eggs in the green paper grass next to the yellow marshmallow peeps. Easter also meant Easter outfits starting with “toppers” – short, lightweight dress coats made with fleecy fabric in pastel colors. The coats were topped off with fancy hats, gloves and perhaps a purse. A new dress, and shoes, polished off the Spring look. When my sister Lori was about 5, she fidgeted a bit during Easter Sunday Mass and got her rosary entwined in the floral arrangement on her hat. There were four big sisters ready to the rescue. I don’t recall any rainy Easter’s – only sunshine in and out. So, yes, we did walk around, shining like the sun on Easter.

  3. Donna Butler on March 29, 2018 at 12:00 am

    Dawn,
    Thank you for a very meaningful blog, both delightful and profound. How we need the radiant light of Christ in order to keep our balance and be able to respond to the great sorrows of our time.

  4. Debbie Dillow on March 30, 2018 at 12:00 am

    Thank you, Dawn, for this beautiful reflection. I pray that I can be Christ Easter to the world around me – one that is crying for the Light.

  5. MaryBeth Rennels Strassel on March 31, 2018 at 12:00 am

    Dawn–this is an thoughtful, beautiful reflection. When I majored in English at the Woods, I did my senior thesis on Hopkins and I love seeing others appreciate him and enfold his language and insights into the present day.

    I may try to run out to the Dollar Tree and get sunglasses for my grandkids’ Easter baskets. Nothing like creating new memories!

    Thank you for sharing this.

  6. Lori Strawn on April 2, 2018 at 12:00 am

    Gerard Manley Hopkins AND Thomas Merton in one post? Talk about an Easter gift!

  7. Marilyn Dale on April 3, 2018 at 12:00 am

    Beautiful reflection, Dawn I particularly enjoyed the sunglasses and the quote of Thomas Merton. What an amazing photograph of the sunrise at the Woods. Beautiful! Happy Easter to you -thank you for your thoughts.
    Marilyn

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