Warning: irreverent pics ahead. Purpose: to offset serious subject matter.
Today is Easter.
Last week also saw the Purim: Ta’anit Esther – March 23, 2016 and Shushan Purim – March 25, 2016, about which I know embarrassingly little. So other than commemorating the event, albeit late, I’m going to keep my mouth shut and my pen still when it comes to details about that. If anyone wants to comment, and offer some additional insight or information, please do. I would love to know more.
The common thread between these two, however, seems to be one of victory. I beg for correction here, but the way I understand Purim is that it celebrates victory over the Persians as told in the Book of Esther.
For Christians, Easter is about Christ’s victory over death, over enemies, over oppression of his message, even over the friends who abandoned him when he revealed himself to them, affirmed his presence, and entrusted them with the legacy of his message.
This is based, for those not “in the know,” on the story of the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension as told in the four Gospels of the New Testament.
And thus, I have many complicated feelings this Sunday morning, as I wonder if my family, my loved ones, the innocent, helpless people I know will ever see victory.
Like Christ, we found and lost the first round. People betrayed us, abandoned us. Like Mary of Magdalene, we stood by helplessly with love and despair and watched everything go terribly wrong.
Thus, I’ve become a very narrow-bandwidth person, a one-issue activist. I could even be said to be a selfish little bugger, because I want restoration for myself and my family. I don’t mean money (though that helps), I mean reunion.
I mean resurrecting the state of family we once enjoyed from a cruel and sadistic destruction and restoring us once again.
I mean overcoming the lies and political agendas that overshadowed right and wrong and love and compassion.
You know, like at the tomb.
I am still waiting for the “Sunday” when everything will be renewed, knowing that outside the four Gospels of the New Testament, and Hollywood movies produced by Sony et al., people don’t always get that. There are stories every day about families losing children to absurd legal technicalities, sickness, criminals. Stories every day of people rotting in prison until they die, over something they didn’t do.
I have doubts rooted in an abundance of documented and highly publicized reality.
Then I watched TV last night.
This wasn’t some televangelist or movie with a proselytizing agenda that threw me a crumb of optimism and hope.
It was reality TV. Secular (gasp!) reality TV.
A reality show had filmed in a penal institution where some friends work (not live), so my husband and I watched just to see if any of them made it onto the show. As we watched, there was a storyline of one kid who shouldn’t have been there in the first bloody place. As a middle-class, middle-aged suburban white woman even I knew within five minutes that this kid was only guilty of being black, young and in the city.
When the crew filmed him, did he protest, rage, object, as he had every right to do?
I mean, Jeez Louise even Christ had his moments of doubt and protest with God. C’mon.
This is what this kid did on camera: he was always polite, most of the time smiling, always calm. According to one of the institution’s personnel, he finished his high school diploma (not GED) for gifted kids with commitment and hard work. Then, we learn, he had decided to be baptized by a pastor he’d known before he went to jail
And so, the pastor was interviewed on camera.
He spoke about hope.
I was undone.
Hope, if I paraphrase correctly, was the last thread of life. In fact, it is life. Without it, we are dead. We must hope. Period.
What do I do with that? What in the hell do I do with that? When the one thing that breathed beauty and joy into my life – love, motherhood, family – is gone? When everyone says or acts out everything from “they weren’t really yours” to “you don’t have to be a mother to be around kids” to “you can’t fight city hall” to “well, I know somebody who had it much worse than you” to “this is too depressing, I can’t be around you when you’re like this”?
Oh, and let’s not forget the looks of “well, you must have done something wrong,” despite statements from half-a-dozen people and witnesses that no, in fact, I didn’t.
When friends and supporters abandon me, authorities ignore justice for their own political agendas, and my spouse and I are left to fend for ourselves?
Oh, yeah, like Mary M. and her guy. Like that.
How do I hope? How do I pray? I’m not a religious figure or the least bit holy. I’m a frustrated, indignant middle-aged woman cursed with a fatty liver, a potty mouth and an overblown sense of right versus wrong. One small, anonymous peon who’s tired of looking this particular situation from the underside of the bus I was thrown under just as it parked. Right here. On me.
Then I turn on the TV and there’s this teenaged black kid sitting in jail for something he didn’t do and he’s holding on, being positive, not giving up.
So, there and then I’m reminded that I can keep the faith a little longer. I can keep up the good fight, which I realize I’ve been doing all along — as my own form of prayer. I pinch pennies to pay my lawyer. I learn about boring-ass legal minutiae to work off some legal fees. I pour over bureaucratic policies and proceeding transcripts for any iota of helpfulness. Is that prayer?
Former monk and author Thomas Moore says as a monk he was taught that everything we do is prayer. So, yes, maybe it is.
Will my prayer be effective?
There are no guarantees.
But sometimes, the good guys do win.
The show closed by adding an epilogue: the kid was released later for lack of evidence.
So, even documented and highly publicized reality even says that sometimes, we do win victory over our enemies. Maybe someone in power, like Esther, who has some connection to our suffering, intervenes and instead of slaughter and persecution we get advocacy and victory. Maybe we make it out of the tomb after all.
I certainly do hope so. I’m guessing that’s what Easter’s supposed to be about.