Alleluia, Christ is risen! Happy Easter!
I think most of us love hearing the story of Jesus’ resurrection, of Jesus conquering death. The story of God’s love for us. But what does it mean for our day-to-day living? Does it really make a difference to us that Jesus rose from the dead?
I have been reading a book entitled “Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make us Whole”, researched and written by Susan Cain. It resonates with me because I agree with her that both sorrow and joy co-exist in life. In the midst of sorrow, in the midst of suffering, pieces of joy can be found and in the midst of joy, bits of sorrow can be found.
There is an ancient wisdom teaching that comes from the Kabbalah, which is the mystical branch of Judaism. Remember Jesus was Jewish. The wisdom metaphor goes like this – and remember a metaphor both means what it says and what it doesn’t say. Those two things come together, and it creates an imagination which is active. You’re not trying to figure things out, you’re trying to enter into what’s there. So, the story goes that originally everything was one unified divine vessel. It was all light, everything was light, but then the divine vessel shattered, and the world that we are living in now is the world after it shattered, but with these divine shards of light scattered all around us. They’re buried all around us, everywhere you look. And from this point of view, the job in life, the task in life is to pick up the buried shards wherever you can find them. And you are going to see different shards from the ones that I would see. And so, this means that even when you happen to be passing through a darker time in your life, the shards are still there somewhere.
A beautiful example of this is the true story of Vedran Smailović, known as the “Cellist of Sarajevo”. In the 90s he was the principal cellist for the Sarajevo Opera and at that point in time there was a civil war and a terrible siege of the city of Sarajevo. This was a siege where people would hole up in their houses and they’d have to come out every so often to find bread for their families, and they would be looking for bread and there would be a sniper on the building trying to shoot them as they looked for their bread…that’s what it was like. So, in the middle of this terrible siege, a building is bombed, and it so happens that this building is right next to the apartment building of Smailovic. He helped take care of the wounded, and then later that day, he comes back out and he’s wearing his tuxedo, he’s dressed as if he’s about to perform, and he sits down in the middle of the rubble that was caused by this bomb that killed 22 people. And as if he has all the time in the world and as if no sniper could possibly touch him, he sits down and he takes out his cello, and he plays the Albinoni in G minor which is an incredibly haunting and beautiful piece of music.
This is the music that he chooses to play in honor of these 22 people who are now gone, and he comes back every day for 22 days and sits there in the middle of this city, beset by snipers and bombs, and he plays this gorgeous, haunting minor key music, and it becomes instantly iconic.
So why do you think he used that music to make the gesture? Why didn’t he use what we might call cheerful music to cheer the people up?
This is bittersweet music…there’s something about this music that expresses the human aching for the heavens.
Jesus tells us, and this is not an idle tale, that he will be with us to the end of the ages and we also know from the bible that Jesus is the light of the world. So, going back to my opening question…why does Jesus’ resurrection make a difference in our lives? Perhaps the fact that Jesus lived as we live and experienced both joy and sorrow, remember his words on the cross…”My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”…this means that he does indeed understand my joy and my sorrow and that he is with me through it all. My Easter prayer for us all is that we make a practice of searching for those shards of light that are present all around us -that light of Christ. And may we ground ourselves in the deep wisdom that is available to us when we are present and open to God. Power, the capacity to act, is available as the Spirit works through us. This power is centered in the sure knowledge that we are all one. We are all on this journey of life together. May we see Christ in each other. And is a reason for shouting Alleluia on this Easter morning. The Lord is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia! Amen.
And now, it seems appropriate that Lauren Blackwell, our guest Cellist and Rachel share Adononi’s Adagio in G minor for us.