The doors of the house were locked with fear. Each Easter I am reminded of this passage from John’s Gospel. I hear the words with apprehension and anxiety, mindful that at times, when I encounter aspects of pain, death, and loss, I lock myself up, and hope that I will be protected against the unknown – emotions, thoughts, lost patterns, heartaches.
Each Easter I try in various ways to suppress the feelings of apprehension and anxiety as I get caught up in the joyful recount of the post resurrection stories. Our parish goes to great pains to enable the assembly, young and old, to experience newness of life, in the hope that the message of the resurrection will resound in people’s hearts and experiences.
After the busyness of Easter Day, this passage from John’s Gospel resounds with me, for in the midst of all the chaos and wonder of all that is on this day, there are parts of me that want to stay locked up.
Perhaps I feel as if there has been so much that is offered, that there is nothing left to give. Perhaps it is that I remember with a melancholy heart, that there are those who are far from me, through geography, death, or through differences in opinion, experience, or formation.
I realize too, that many times people are far from me because I shut them out. I break bonds, I don’t want to hold on to the hardness of a situation and so I lock myself away. How hard it must have been for disciples to grasp the reality of resurrection? Many times I find it difficult to see the resurrection present in my own life – of me dying to old patterns and rising to Christ within me. Too often I try to stay with patterns that are safe and predictable so I don’t have to be confronted with the reality of death, resurrection, and new steps, through the locked door, out into the world all around me.
And yet that is what I believe that God has called me to experience. I am called to continually shed the layers that block me from God, and from God-in-others. I am called to accept the reality that I need to die each day to be reborn in the ministry and work that God demands that I experience in this place.
Am I really that closed off and locked away? I am reminded of the beautiful autobiography The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, written by Jean-Dominique Bauby (1997) in the months before he died. He expressed himself through communication with his eyelids, due to a stroke that left him with locked-in syndrome.
When I consider the challenges that Jean-Dominique and his loved ones faced, I realize that the perceived troubles I mutter about are inconsequential.
The blessing of the Easter message is returning to me. Returning to the resurrection, receiving God’s peace, being present in the reality of the world’s experience, is where I should be. There I will unlock my doors, there Christ will encounter me.