As for my faith: I’ve become my father’s son…Doubt one minute, faith the next – sometimes inspired, sometimes in despair. Canon Campbell taught me to ask myself a question when the latter state settles upon me. Whom do I know who’s alive whom I love? Good question – one that can bring you back to life. ~ John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany
I’ve tried, I really have. I’ve read each day from a Lenten devotional, one that I myself contributed to. I’ve worn a LIVESTRONG bracelet to remind me to forgive others, and not forget myself while I’m at it. I’ve attended our church’s Wednesday night Lenten services where in stillness and silence and candles we’ve reflected on that prayer the Lord taught us to boldly say. I’ve tried, I really have. But I am unmoved leaning into the culmination of the Christian year. It hasn’t always been this way, but it is this year.
I’ve worried at times I was becoming cynical. Self-deception is quite easy but I really don’t think I’m cynical. I do think I’m despairing, and there’s a difference although I don’t fully understand it. Maybe its my age and all I’ve seen so far that’s causing this feeling. I don’t know. I do know that I’m drawn back to that question from Irving’s masterpiece: Whom do I know who’s alive whom I love?
I love my wife and our three kids, kids who are us but not us. I love our beagle although that fella tries me. I love my parents, my brother and his wife and girls, and all my extended family. I love my grandmother who tries to rest in a nursing home these days, her pain teased by morphine as death crouches at the door. I love my friends, men and women far more faithful to me than I have been to them. I love my neighbors, people who help me shovel snow when its wet and heavy, and loan me ladders when I need to hang Christmas lights. And I love Jesus. I have loved him since I was a child. We’ve grown up together. With the exception of the faces of my father and mother, his is the one I’ve known the longest.
So I will don my old houndstooth blazer, the one I’ve worn several years now because doing so allows me to buy new Easter dresses for my daughters. And if new Easter dresses and plastic eggs rub you wrong, consider yourself rubbed. Please tone down the crusade. And I’ll attend our Good Friday service and sit with the faithful, no doubt some who are as despairing as I am but we still show up and take our place and say the words. And I’ll get up early Sunday morning and watch Johnny Cash’s The Gospel Road, as is my custom, and I’ll begin to weep, as is also my custom, when John the Baptist says ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.’
I will celebrate this Easter as one despairing, but also as one who knows whom I love. And maybe in some still, small way that will bring me back to life because I don’t know much, I really don’t, but I do know a little about the greatest of these.