“We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song!”– Pope John Paul II
I am an Easter person. No matter what is going on in my life, happy or sad, I wake up on Easter morning brimming over with joy and excitement, a rousing rendition of “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” spilling from my lips before I’ve even opened my eyes. The years when I’m quite happy or even merely satisfied, Easter is like an added adrenaline shot to my soul. The years when I’m struggling or stressed, Easter is a balm to my spirit, a reminder that what I am facing is not all there is. But this year… This year was different.
The past week has brought with it my long-time sparring partner, depression. I’ve been facing it for over twenty years now, usually seasonally, and I’ve learned how to spot it coming, ward it off if possible, and face it with courage (and medication) if not possible. It’s not the first Easter I’ve celebrated with it hanging around, so I was looking forward to waking up on Easter having turned the corner emotionally thanks to my yearly shot of joy. But instead, I woke up feeling… nothing.
I tried to connect to the Easter story using my typical methods. I read my favorite resurrection-themed Bible passages, resurrection-themed poems, and resurrection-themed quotes. Nothing. I listened to my favorite resurrection-themed songs. Nothing. I worshiped online with my church community. Nothing. I kept trying to find the thing that would make me FEEL Easter. FEEL resurrection joy. For where my feelings go, there goes the rest of me. Without the feelings, was it even Easter at all?
Thankfully, a friend shared a post from Anglican priest Tish Harrison Warren called “If Easter Is Only a Symbol, Then to Hell with It.” It was exactly the reminder I needed. She writes:
“And yet, the solid fact remains that Christians do not make Easter through our worship and our calendar. Jesus rose from the dead, and even if it were never acknowledged en masse, it would remain the fixed point around which time itself turns. The truth of the Resurrection is wild and free. It possesses us more than we could ever possess it and rolls on happily with no need of us, never bending to our opinions of it. If the claims of Christianity are true, they are true with or without me.”
Here’s the thing: We Christians believe that Jesus died and rose again. Literally. We believe in the resurrection as a historical fact, something that happened over two thousand years ago. Something that changed EVERYTHING. Something that doesn’t need my right feelings about it in order to be true. Even if I don’t feel it, the resurrection happened anyways.
Even if I don’t feel it, we have new life. Christ in us, the hope of glory.
Even if I don’t feel it, we are forgiven.
Even if I don’t feel it, we are redeemed.
Even if I don’t feel it, we are filled with the Spirit.
Even if I don’t feel it, we are being made new.
So instead of trying to find the thing that will make me “feel” Easter, I’ve been listening to a new-to-me song that is helping me remember what is true, to remember that no matter what is happening in the world and no matter what I’m feeling, there was a moment in history when his heart started beating again, and nothing was every the same. Maybe you need a song to hold onto, too.
Maybe for you, it’s not your feelings. Maybe it’s everything going on in the world right now because of the pandemic. Maybe it’s your beliefs or your doubts. Whatever it is, I pray that we can find hope knowing that no matter what is going on with us, his heart beats. There is resurrection anyways.