This year has seen hope die a hundred times. The whole world agreed on one thing: January felt about one hundred days too long. The last two months have been in the strange eternity in the intersection of fear and pain, swirling by too fast to see and standing stock still in horror. We live in the season of empires. It is the season of winters that last. It is the season of injustice raining blood in the streets. In my own life, despair has been a traveling salesman, following me to my car and to my job and to my computer, where I write as though these thoughts will be heard. It has been abandonment at the trial. It has been watching the wrong thing win and lambs with their throats slit open. It is wondering if I will ever wash my hands enough. It has been the eloquence of weeping, failures beyond the scope of my imagination. The voices of the devout are learning how to pronounce the words "crucify him" in preparation for some new rally.
And it is watching hope live again, hopes that died so many years ago that I only knew how to feel their absence. It has been one foot in front of the other, with clarity of purpose (if not of desire). It has been a season of songs, of stories, of revelation. Dreams I had never voiced because they were beyond even the ridiculousness of hope, were revealed to be already real. It has been the rescue, the sudden lifting of sorrows too old to remember their names. It has been forgiveness. Grace. The prayers prayed only in tears have seen their answers, and in my joy I again have no words.
And in all of it, Jesus re-tells the story that He has told in every seed and every tide: the loss and the flood, the death and the life, the temptation to despair and the extinguishing of the light in the face of the rising sun. The great Story matters not because it is only good - it matters because it is woven into the fabric of reality. The life we're waiting for is rising even now out of the darkness. "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" He asked. I have asked Him the same thing. He walked, open-armed, into betrayal of the heart and soul, the shattering of the body, and the truest death of hope, that Truth could live on forever. Hope is such a ridiculous thing. And yet, I'm reminded that the Gospel asks for the reckless hope we normally reserve for things like seeds: let them die, and give it time. The Gospel leaves room for the revelation that the end of the story is in fact the beginning. The life I lived up to the day I realized I was a writer outweighs the life after it in number of days, and yet the whole story before that seems to be weaving itself around the unspeakably real. And we are allowed, in the Good News, the weekend of grief. We are allowed to be broken when everyone else feels like they've got their fresh start. We are allowed to genuinely doubt that the sun will rise again even while we prepare for the sunrise tasks tomorrow has appointed us. We are allowed to feel the orphaning and the adoption both. The hands that hold us leave their own scars in place. And today, we remember the depth of loss that we all suffer and wait for the Light to return.