easter and the boldness of joy

It`s naïve to think that the struggles of Lent will magically disappear on Easter morning. Yet we sit in the Church surrounded by an explosion of flowers and resounding choruses of Alleluias. Our faith tells us to be happy on this most joyous of days in the liturgical year. Yet joy can be an unbearable burden to those in the midst of suffering. This Easter my mind was filled with the present suffering of good people I know. How can you celebrate Easter joy with the unexpected death of a 24 year old son and brother, the pain of broken relationships or news of a father`s terminal cancer?

Sigrund came regularly to our office. If we saw her name on the patient list, we knew that our day would be brighter. Hers was not an easy life, but she was always cheerful and optimistic. And it wasn’t a shallow, Pollyanna-ish type of cheerfulness. She truly radiated a deep joy that was the source of her life’s energy. Joy was reflected in her eyes, her smile, and the kind, gentle tone of her voice. She is gone now, and we miss her. She is now hanging with all the saints in glory, rejoicing for all eternity.

Sometimes – often most-times – joy is an intentional emotion. We all have inner radar that measures and interprets our daily experiences, rating each on the half-full or half-empty scale. Like Sigrund, we can calibrate that radar and focus on the small blessings given to us each day. They will not take away the deep aches and suffering of our human reality. But many small blessings, when recognized and added up, can help to balance the pain.

It takes a bold faith to believe in the resurrection and promise of new life. And it takes a bold spirit to not lose hope, for hope holds the seeds of joys to come.