Last Sunday afternoon, I planted spinach, mustard greens and kale in our small, backyard cold box. The feeling of the dirt between my fingers was a tangible reminder of many months of gardening joy ahead. It was a warm, 80-degree day, and our dogs lounged happily in the sun-warmed grass. Justin tuned up the bikes and organized the garage. We took several walks throughout the day, savoring what felt like atmospheric perfection.
Last year’s Easter looked a lot different. In addition to all the uncertainty and disruption related to COVID-19, it was also an intense day of weather. It snowed a lot that morning. I remember convincing Justin that we should go on an early morning nature hike. Finn was an “only dog” back then (pre-Maeve), and I remember his tail wagging happily as puffy flakes fell from the sky.
Change is perpetual and inevitable. Just as Easter Day 2021 varied immensely from Easter Day 2020, next year will be different, too. And it isn’t just Easter that’s prone to variation. Ongoing adjustments are part of so much of life; nearly everything changes.
The liturgical season of Easter (also called Eastertide) lasts for 50 days and carries us all the way to Pentecost (May 23). Since we’re still hanging out in Easter, why not explore one of Jesus’ post-resurrection encounters a little further? This one is from the Gospel of John.
After Jesus’ death and burial, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb. She thought she was conversing with the gardener, who turned out to be Jesus himself! Mary was overjoyed when his identity was revealed. Jesus said to Mary at some point in their conversation, “Do not hold on to me.” He then gave her instructions to spread the word.
In a time of immense transition, Mary was eager to hold on to the bliss she encountered outside the tomb. But Jesus invited her to do something different with her attention. Jesus directed her away from attachment to the temporary.
As I look back over the past year, I wonder what lessons we’ve all learned about maintaining a lighter grip. Knowing what we know now about how quickly everything about our routines and lives can change, what benefit might there be in staying a little more flexible?
It’s natural to want to build structure and certainty back into the system; it’s necessary, to some extent. But can we build whatever comes next knowing that constructing on a foundation of rigid certainty about the future will always be an illusion?
I’m watching my grip these days. Join me. What hopes, assumptions and routines might we be holding a little too tight? In what areas of our individual and collective lives might we benefit from a willingness to release? What freedom might we encounter in embracing the beauty of a planet forever in motion?
"Holy Everything" is a weekly column by Emily Carson. She is a Lutheran pastor. Visit her website emilyannecarson.com.