Easter is mostly about waking up. It’s Easter when God and spring susurrate through the veins of nature giving frozen earth and frozen hearts a wake-up call. That call is ever needed. The human proclivity is towards sleep. Without outside revelation, the trumpet blast announcing resurrection, a divine force opening tombs, and God whispering new life inside of us, our preoccupations and obsessions invariably render us blind as bats—left to fly by radar.
Easter is about eyesight, seeing. George Orwell once summarized our difficulties in this area: “A rather cruel trick I once played on a wasp. He was sucking jam on my plate and I cut him in half. He paid no attention, merely went on with his meal, while a tiny stream of jam trickled out of his severed esophagus. Only when he tried to fly away did he grasp the dreadful thing that had happened to him. It is the same with us. The thing that has been cut away is our soul and there is a period of time…during which we do not notice it.” (G. Orwell, Collected Essays, Vol. II, Page 15)
It’s a strange irony! We spend our lives searching for life in its rarity and we hardly notice Easter and spring. It’s Easter and we are heavy in spirit. Resurrection is all around and we are feeling old! Why? Why so blind to spring and resurrection?
Classical spiritual writers have always affirmed a connection between morality and epistemology. That’s a sophisticated way of saying that how we live morally affects our eyesight, our perception of reality. Moral laxity, sin, and lack of faith, cloud vision. That’s very true and our propensity to sleep through the resurrection, obviously, has something to do with our less than perfect faith and morals. However, I believe, in the end the problem is not so much our badness as our busyness, our sin as our obsessions. Let me try to explain this:
I don’t think that we are a particularly bad people. We have moral faults and laxities which are peculiar to our generation, but, conversely, we also have moral strengths and virtues that past generations lacked. Moreover, God is used to revealing love and resurrection to a sinful people. Where God is perhaps less practiced is in revealing love and resurrection to such busy and preoccupied persons. Where we differ from past generations is more in the pace of our lives than in our moral inadequacies. We are pressured, preoccupied, hurried, hell-bent, and driven in a way that previous generations never were. We’ve no time for the examined life, for contemplation, to notice spring and resurrection. “The plant must run!” as Merton once put it. There is little time or energy left after that has been taken care of.
Sadly, this is true even of our preaching of the gospel. We are so busy teaching the gospel, learning the gospel, running religious programs, administering sacraments, and making sure the religious plant runs that there is precious, little, if any, time and energy left to actually live the gospel. We have to spend so much time talking about God that, at a point, there is no time to listen to God any more. To this we add restlessness and emotional obsessions. Here too we differ from past ages. We are more restless, more dis-eased, than they. People have always been restless and prone to obsessions, but our age militates against restfulness and literally invites obsessions.
A myriad of factors—mass media, more leisure time, unbridled romance and sex, and philosophies of self-fulfillment which point us towards a salvation within our world—have driven up our psychic temperatures and have made it very difficult for us to accept our own lives and spirits. This makes for lots of heartaches. As painful as are the headaches that come to us from the hurriedness and pressures of our work, they are a lesser evil. It’s our heartaches, the emotional obsessions that so unsettle our rest, which, in Orwell’s metaphor, keep us concentrated on the jam.
They are the pain and the narcissism which makes us unaware of spring and resurrection and the whispering of God about newness and stones being rolled back. We don’t notice spring and resurrection because, outside of our heartaches and headaches, we hardly see anything at all. The earth is ablaze with the fire of God, with sights, sounds, smells, touches and tastes that are enough to make anyone want to take one’s shoes off. There’s resurrection a plenty! Mostly it goes unnoticed. We sleep the sleep of heartaches and headaches!
It’s the time for spring and resurrection. I doubt there will be any resurrection trumpets loud enough to blast the narcissistic hell out of us. Mostly resurrection is about susurrection,* whispering. God whispers a lot. There are all kinds of secrets to be heard. Spring and Easter is a good season, for looking and listening.