Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
No, I mean... really.
It is always so hard for me to put into words what I take away from the celebration of Lent, the Triduum, and the Resurrection. But it is so necessary to bear witness, so I try even though saying the ineffable almost self-contradicts.
I will try snap shots.
Early last week I was leaving a store with my daughter, waiting for cars to go past so we could get to our car in the parking lot, and it suddenly struck me with great force that God's holy interactions with us have nothing to do with the thoughts and reflections we can drum up. He reaches into our very concrete human reality in His way, in His time, and He does stuff. We couldn't make it happen and once it is going we couldn't stop it if we tried. God is sovereign, and it is precisely our grotty humanity to which He wants access. When we "open wide our mouths," He will indeed fill them (Ps. 81:10).
Only God makes my life make sense. Oh, I can try. My goodness, I know how to expend all sorts of energy in explaining and figuring out and ruminating and making connections. But there's something in that that God wants me to leave behind for something much better. God, after all, is a personal being, and as a personal being He is also a relational being. What is more, He has a will. That means He has certain things He desires for me. It is not only His right as my Creator, but it is also to my great benefit to choose according to His will, because His will is nothing but love and mercy towards me. This requires that I trust. It is perfectly logical to trust an almighty, omnipotent and loving God. However, it also requires my death, and that ain't always so cool in the way it feels. God doesn't, like, explain everything to me in advance. I, like, generally don't have a clue what He is doing and sometimes He leads me in ways that make me feel like a complete idiot. Sometimes I get really, deeply scared by how He leads me. Sometimes it requires me to humble myself to the point where I think I can't go any lower without dying. (Hah hah -- guess what! Then He says "Go lower!" because my dying is exactly what He's after! Dying to self.... remember that one?)
But all of a sudden, it all comes together. All of a sudden, the Lord says, "Marie, look. Look at Me." And I do, and all of a sudden it all makes sense. But it isn't about "it." When the Lord makes Himself visible to the soul, the soul suddenly realizes that it can bear anything in union with Him. And all the walking in the dark and the scary trust and tears and struggle and dying.... well, seeing the Lord makes it all bearable. It even makes me say "thank you, Lord, for all that. It was worth it."
God does not play with us. I know St. Therese said she wanted the Child Jesus to treat her like a plaything that He could pick up and drop as He chose. That makes sense to me on the level of our experience of our lives; that's abandonment to God's will. But what I mean is that God does not act without purpose and design. Hebrews tells us God treats us as sons. I fear sometimes that our culture can make no sense of that phrase at all. But I believe the point is that He trains us to do His work in maturity, just as a father would train a son to learn his trade. So the crosses that God sends have many subjective reasons and purposes, but objectively speaking, they are so that the life and ministry of Jesus Christ can be perpetuated in time and space now, through us. In other words, I don't die to myself just because God loves to subjugate people, or because I am part of some oppressive religious system that believes in self-subjugation. God imparts power this way. God unleashes His power to transform life this way. We die so that others can live. The power and transformation is for others. This is the way He works. This is what our crosses are for. We bear the cross so that someone else can experience God's miraculous healing power. Then they are set off on the same cycle of loving God, learning to follow, learning to suffer, and unleashing graces for others. This is Christianity.
I've written a lot about a difficult spiritual trial I have undergone for the last year. Yes, I'm vague on purpose about it. Maybe some day I won't be. But I know it has been the work of God all along (starting way before the difficult part started). Every difficulty has been worth it. And after this year-long Lent, I know there is a Pentecost to come. God has been the instigator and navigator of this journey, and He won't stop now. He is absolutely faithful, and my experience tells me to proclaim that you can and should trust Him to death and beyond.