Happy Easter to those who celebrate it; and Passover as well.
Here we are, in strange days indeed, celebrating a day all about new beginnings, hope and resurrection and yet many of us are feeling far from that mindset. In these days of quarantine, the ‘old’ world of immediate gratification has found a worthy foe: a pandemic forcing us all to some level of solitude. And even though I am struggling hard vacillating ever so quickly between panic and despair, in the midst of all of this, I am afforded the time to slow down, breathe, and attune my being to God’s pervadingly loving Presence.
And here we are on a global level, every nation impacted by this pandemic, and it happens at a time of year when over 4 billion people are celebrating some major aspect of their religious faith (Christians with Easter, Muslims with Ramadan, and Jews with Passover). It is beyond surreal.
All this pausing, isolating, grieving, and solitude moved me to think more about the reality of Easter, especially in a time of pandemic shifts. I thought about resurrection and the relationship between the religious concept of resurrection to the look of resurrection within recovery from addiction.
People who celebrate Easter share much with people who have found recovery from addiction. Easter gets real with Good Friday, that shadowy day where Jesus was crucified, to a dead Saturday of a promised messiah in a tomb to the scandal of an empty tomb on Sunday. The sequence of these events is much the same way addicts and alcoholics find recovery – death, emptiness, some almost miraculous shift and the rebirth of hope.
People in recovery, like people of faith, are also people on the Way; a people in constant transition and transformation.
Like believers who live between the tension of the crucifixion and the resurrection, people in recovery are those who must live between two tensions as well: the tension of being between the already and the not yet (to quote the theologians). I am already healed and hopeful and I am not yet fully healed; I am an addict bound in some ways to the bondage of my past and I am in recovery, set free from the bondage of active addiction to live a life of love and service.
When I look around at all the pain and confusion, the isolation and the despair, I feel like during a pandemic all of us are indeed “Good Friday People.” For those of us who have been bound by the chains of addiction, we have known the reality of Good Friday, for addiction to anything is a form of crucifixion.
But the glorious news believer celebrate today, that their promised messiah has risen from the dead is parallel to the glorious news of recovery: hope is not dead and death does not have to have the final say.
There is hope; there is another way; there is a different ending to the story of addiction.
We must all face the drudgery of daily life. For those of us in recovery, we must face the drudge of the day after day – from the early days of the toxic shit of withdrawal and fighting our way past the obsession and compulsion to get high to the often boring days that do in fact come with years of sobriety. These are all Good Friday moments that happen far more often than one day a year.
These Good Friday times are painful, no doubt, but they serve a purpose of molding us into a people of hope and healing; a people deeply spiritual and connected to Creator. We are a people who have come to a deeper reliance upon grace rather than human sensibilities in ways that would leave many Christians scratching their heads.
Good Friday moments connect us more to each other and God; Good Friday moments teach us some of the ebb and flow of a Grace that extends to all.
But as I have said Good Friday moments are not the final word.
It would do well for all us to remember the message of Easter this day: that resurrection and hope are the final words.
Our emptiness, our addictions, our sickness and loneliness (and even our death) are not the last word from the world; they are merely a word, but not the word. The resurrection of hope and recovery; the restoration of life that comes sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly is the final all glorious word spoken to us.
So today, hear this message just for you, hear God speak personally to you this truth: “Death is not the end. Addiction is not the end. Fear is not the end. I AM the End that has no end. I AM the Beginning that is ever new. I AM the Hope and Love for which you long and My Love for you is all-embracing and eternal no matter what.”
Let’s celebrate this truth together, for in these strange days we have all become both Good Friday people and Easter people all rolled into one. We are a people living in the creative tension of the already and the not yet of the Resurrection.
So this Easter, my prayers for all of us is that we will go deeper: deeper into God; deeper into life; deeper into the journey of recovery; and finally, deeper into each other to experience this power called hope, this power called life, this power called resurrection.
Let the people say ‘Amen!’