Graves into Gardens: Come Away – Sunday April 7, 2024

There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven. Those words are the opening of chapter three from the book of Ecclesiastes. Or, as I first experienced them, the opening lyrics of a song written by Pete Seeger in 1959 and covered by The Byrds in 1965. Those words highlight a deep truth, everything has seasons, there is a time for different things. Nature makes time for new birth and flourishing, letting go and releasing, as well as hibernation, rest, and pause. Our lives have seasons, as do our days, weeks, and years. There are times of grief and sorrow, of sickness or hardship, of joy and laughter, of happiness and celebration. Even the Church has seasons. The cycle of the church year begins with Advent in late November or early December which leads into Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Eastertide, Pentecost in late May or early June, and finally wraps up with several months of what we call Ordinary time before coming back to Advent again. And those church seasons help make room in our life for some important things. Advent teaches us the gift of anticipation and waiting. Lent makes time for self-reflection, introspection, acknowledging our unhealthy patterns and habits, as well as repentance and forgiveness. Ordinary time reminds us of the everyday beauty, the holy in the simplest of things, and gods presence in what we might call mundane or ordinary. And Eastertide, the 50 day season after the day of Easter, well, Eastertide gives us permission to feel joy. It makes space and invites us to experience love, peace, and happiness.


Arise and come away, Easter says. Winter is past, it has had its time. Now? Flowers appear, blossoming and fragrant, the time of singing has come. After the difficult season of Lent, Easter invites us to take time and simply, bask in the light of resurrection. Bask in grace and love and possibilities and hope. Like the beloveds in Song of Solomon, or Song of Songs, God speaks to us through Easter and says, arise, come away with me into a new season. And you might think, umm, I would love to feel joyful, happy, and hopeful, I do not need permission or an invitation to feel those things, bring it on! But when joy is there, served to us on a platter, it isn’t as easy to grasp as we might think.


There is so much going on in the world, in our country, how could I feel happy at a time like this?

My best friend is going through such a hard time, how could I feel joyful while she is in pain?

I don’t deserve to feel this much joy and happiness.


The things we tell ourselves amaze me, the thoughts that come up, the tapes that start running through our brain, when we feel what we consider too happy or too joyful. In fact, the author Brené Brown names joy as one of the most vulnerable emotions we can experience. Too often we try to protect ourselves and think, I won’t get too happy about this, then it won’t be such a let down when something sad our difficult happens. We think that minimizing or not really leaning into joy and laughter will somehow protect us, like pain and sorrow won’t hurt as much if don’t ever get too happy. But that line of thinking, is just false. Pain and sorrow, difficulties, hardship, and sadness, they happen. Those things are a part of life. But preventing ourselves from fully experiencing joy, blocking ourselves from really leaning into happiness, does not help. Think about it like this. In the depths of winter, when it is days upon days of cloudiness or the snow just won’t melt, those random days when the sun shines brightly and the snow starts to melt, they are necessary respites. Yes, the snow and the clouds will return, but we need those bright days, we need glimpses of summer and spring to buoy and support us. And the same is true of joy and happiness. It is ok not to feel happy or joyful. But when those feelings do come, when moments arise for us to lean into those feelings, avoiding them hurts us. Avoiding the full power of happiness and joy hinders the grace and love God can work in those moments and it denies us the hope we need in the future, the memory of better times we need when sorrow and frustration and pain do come again.


The season of Easter is a 50 day invitation to lean into happiness and to bask in joy. It is a great big permission slip to feel those lighter, uplifting emotions, to laugh and smile. Even for just a moment each day or each week, embrace the gift of the Easter season. Recognize God telling you, “arise, my child, and come away. Winter is past and flowers appear on the earth. The time of singing, blossoming, and life is here, for the earth and for you.”

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