It is Good Friday morning. Snowy, cold, sun that is trying desperately to brighten and warm the earth.
I find this time of year somewhat difficult. We are on the cusp of Spring, but not there yet. We are on the cusp of sunshine that warms the ground and elevates our mood and energy, but we are not there yet. We are on the cusp of new life, happening all around us, but we are not there yet.
And I suppose, at some level, that is what Good Friday is all about – cold, dark, and yet on the cusp of light and hope. It is a difficult day. And it should be a difficult day……because that is part of the story of our faith, that is a part of the story of our lives, that is a part of the story of our world – always has been, always will be…
Without darkness we would have no idea about what light is all about, without despair we would have no idea about what hope is all about, without pain and difficulty we would have no idea of what it feels like to be pain free……..
All of this is life. Whether we like it or not is somewhat irrelevant. It is life. Scott Peck, in his book, The Road Less Travelled, begins his first chapter by saying, ‘life is difficult.’ One of Buddhism’s tenets is, ‘all life is suffering.’
And that is not a ‘bad’ thing. In my work as Chaplain for the City’s 14000 employees, I spend many hours with many people in the midst of their suffering, hurt, pain and sometimes overwhelming grief. It is in those dark, foreboding places that they often learn so much about themselves and others, they experience depths of emotion that they may never knew they had, they come face to face with their own mortality, their own failings, they experience life in all of its reality – dare I say, in all of its abundance….
You see, I believe (more and more) that when Jesus said, I came that they might have life and have it abundantly – I think what he meant was, I came that they might live authentic lives, true to oneself lives, – lives where we are honest with ourselves about our failures and our successes, lives where we draw lines in the sand for our own care and wellbeing, lives where we recognize and understand that life can be pretty darn awful sometimes (maybe of our own making, or that of others, or both), but that things can be different, better, and that we will get there – with the help of others, with the help of our faith, with the assurance that not only are we on the cusp of light and warmth and new life – but that new life does happen, the sun will begin to warm the earth again.
Life is difficult. No-one knew that better than the One who went to the Cross today.
Life is difficult. But there is always hope and light. No-one knew that better than the One whose resurrection we celebrate and who came to teach us about abundant/authentic living.
John Dowds, Lead Chaplain, City of Edmonton