By Ginny Schaeffer, Director of the Angela Merci Center for Spirituality
It is the second week of the great Easter feast and we still proclaim, “Christ is risen! Alleluia! Alleluia!” We have heard the stories of the risen Christ showing himself to Mary Magdalene and the two travelers to Emmaus and how he made his way through locked doors to reassure and bless his fearful disciples.
It is still Easter and we celebrate the good news of the risen Christ; yet, there are moments or even days when it still feels like Good Friday. We are confronted daily by images of hospital hallways where the battle between life and death is being waged. We watch helplessly as bodies are loaded into refrigerated trucks because there is no room for them in the morgue or funeral homes. We listen in stunned silence as the number of newly infected, the hospitalized and those who have died grow exponentially. We are like the women at the foot of the cross, and John the disciple, standing helplessly by sometimes too stunned to think or wondering when or how this nightmare will end.
For many, the situation may feel hopeless: no vaccine, no proven treatments and an economy that is in freefall. Yes, if we keep our focus on possible outcomes our situation may appear to be and feel helpless.
At the Last Supper Jesus spoke of a peace that he offered that is much different than the peace the world offers. In the same vein, there is a hope that also surpasses human understanding. It is a hope that is very different from what the world offers and; as followers of the risen Christ, it is a hope in which we can become receptacles and instruments of in our daily lives, no matter the circumstances.
In her book, Mystical Hope, Cynthia Bourgeault, writes of a hope that is not rooted in the outcomes we might wish for or dream of and which may or may not happen. This hope is rooted in the Divine, in the Infinite LOVE that dwells in the ground of our being. It persists even when bad news arrives at our doorsteps.
This mystical hope is not of our own making but wells up within us as we live connected to the Source of our being.
Remember the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well how, in the middle of their conversation, Jesus, seemingly out of nowhere, proclaims, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I will give will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give will become a spring of living water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4: 13-14) Our task is to stay in the flow of that living water. This “hope is not intended to be an extraordinary infusion [during difficult times], but an abiding state of being.”[i] It is the hope that allowed Julian of Norwich to proclaim:
All shall be well… For there is a
Force of love moving through the
universe that holds us fast and will
never let us go.
As it was for her, may it also be for us.
[i] Cynthia Bourgeault, Mystical Hope: Trusting in the Mercy of God (New York: Cowley Publications, 2001), p. 16.