April 10, 2024 Drawing Closer to April in our lives. It seems there have  been so many deaths of family members and close friends in the past  few weeks. This reading from the Society of Saint John the Evangelist  came across my computer. Br. Luke Ditewig is one of my favourite  homilists. I hope this reading will provide inspiration and hope for  you reminding us that our Lord is always present on our journeys.  God be with you all. 

With Blessings and Affection 

Deacon Kate Ann 

Present Alongside – Br. Luke Ditewig 

We never thought today would be like this, never considered we could  lose so much. Death keeps shattering us, our plans and expectations  with loss upon loss. Everything is upended. We are sad, so sad at all  that has happened and is happening. It is confusing. Life is so  strange. Things don’t make sense anymore. What in the world  happens next? 

Two companions are talking this way on the road to Emmaus, sharing  grief. They talk of Jesus, their friend, whom they expected would save  them, but who was betrayed, killed, and buried. There is talk of the  body missing, and people supposedly seeing angels. 

We are talking this way, talking much of our grief at so much death  and loss. Talking of we have lost or fear losing: loved ones, health,  employment, plans, and direction. The disorientation of life upended:  staying at home, now all the time with the same people or so starkly  alone, of aching added work or loss of work, with little idea what’s  next or when this will change. 

As the two walk to Emmaus, Jesus comes and walks alongside. They  don’t recognize the one whom they most love and grieve. He is a  stranger to them. Jesus asks about their conversation, sees and  hears their sadness, and then shares about his own suffering, talking  through scripture.

This is Easter: feeling loss and disorientation, being face-first with  death, long talks of grief, being confused, and receiving a stranger’s  compassionate presence. Easter is not with bright lights or heroic  appearance, not with quick fixes or easy answers. There are times  when we do not see, cannot perceive that Jesus is here alive with us. 

Jesus came to Mary as she visited the tomb and supposed him to be  a gardener, to a frightened community gathered behind locked doors,  to a group out fishing for whom he provided breakfast, and for these  two friends, on the way in their sad talk. 

The simplicity surprises us, for it is not as special as we might expect.  Resurrection comes right where we are now, amid difficult emotions,  perplexing questions, as we walk and eat. Frederick Buechner wrote:  “Jesus is apt to come into the very midst of life at its most real and  inescapable moments. … He never approached from on high, but  always in the midst, in the midst of people, in the midst of real life and  the questions that real life asks.”[i] 

Jesus comes and walks with us where we are, amid challenges and  grief, amid darkness and despair, when life hurts and makes no  sense, when we are bent under the weight of heavy hearts,  when lips tremble and tears flow. This is Easter. Jesus comes to be  alongside in our current pain and sadness. Jesus is alive here with  us, compassionate and curious, oh so human, and friend. Listening to  our heartache, sharing his own stories of suffering, and breaking  bread together. 

If you don’t feel the alleluias, or if you are blind and weighed down in  grief, you are not alone. Many of us feel the same. Jesus is alive and  present alongside including when we don’t see. So like the two  companions on the road, speak your grief. Jesus is persistent,  surprising, and personal, coming with love to comfort, console, and  confirm. As before and on the cross, Jesus comes not as we expect.

As we collectively and personally face much death and compounded  loss, keep praying the pain. If you are looking for words, try about half  of the psalms for they show us how to lament. Lament is a cry of pain,  a cry for help, and a cry of trust. It is stark and boldly real about pain  and suffering, and it assumes being heard. Lament is not just for Lent  or Holy Week. It is our ancient prayer. It’s for life, for being human.  Keep praying your lament now in our world of grief. 

I appreciate psychiatrist Curt Thompson’s reflections. He encourages  us to not deny our losses or diminish them by trying to compare with  someone else. Your grief is real, and it is yours. Thompson also  suggests writing down each day at least one thing you have lost, or  are losing. Then also name a couple things for which you are  thankful. In this way, pray both grief and gratitude. Tell someone you  trust your grief and your gratitude. [ii] Speak it along the hard road,  and listen to others. Pray your life as you experience it. [iii] 

Jesus persistently comes including when we can’t perceive. Not in  dazzling power but in shared stories of suffering, Jesus walks and  breaks bread with us. This is Easter. We are not alone. Present  alongside, oh so human and friend, Jesus gently fans our soul’s faint  embers into flame. 

[i] Frederick Buechner. (1966) The Magnificent Defeat. New York, NY:  HarperCollins.