"What made you sad/angry?" What bright spot have you found?"
Several days following the devastating forces of Hurricane Michael, Katie Mears from Episcopal Relief and Development came to St. Andrew’s, Panama City. We sat around in the heat in the garage of the rectory - our “command post” - and talked about the overwhelming emotional surge that was happening in our parish. Katie suggested we give folks a forum to express their feelings, so among the first things we did was to tape two large pieces of paper to the chapel glass window that faces the worship space. Parishioners were asked to name: “What makes you sad or angry?” and “What bright spot have you found?” We have left them there since the first week of the storm. On the night of the Easter Vigil, and on Easter Sunday we moved those words of hurt and chaos through the power of the resurrection. We pinned them to the backs of the Easter banners and the looks on people’s faces, when they saw them come down the aisle during the singing of "Jesus Christ is risen today! Alleluia," was truly a resurrection moment.
Things are still not good, devastation and destruction are still everywhere. Nothing will ever look the same. Last week when it rained there were still 200 people sleeping under blue tents. But for a shining moment we all were reminded that Easter is a moment when those things which have been blown away or have died are left behind even as new life emerges to begin a new cycle. Death never has the final word. And yet, it is possible to miss that new reality coming into being if we remain focused on the past and those things which have lived their full lifetimes but whose time to go has come. Easter is a time to let go of our grasp on the past and to embrace the new life awaiting us on the other side of the opening door. Every exit is also an entrance...
Photo credit: Margaret Shepard