Friday, 29 March 2013

Easter: Suffering & Hope

Easter is my favourite holiday. When I was a kid I loved it for the trip to my Grandparents in Abbotsford -- the Easter-egg dyeing and basket-making and house full of 20 or more people and the delicious Mennonite food. When I became Catholic I grew to love it even more, for all of Holy Week, especially the Triduum culminating in the Easter Vigil. And, since I have been with David, I have loved it as the one holiday that we’ve been able to spend together and make our own. Needless to say, this year I was looking forward to having our first Easter with Walter. And then the shit (quite literally) hit the fan (or at least the baby) and, along with all the other chaos that is our life right now, put an end to my hopes for a normal Easter.

Walter and I both caught the flu again. We’re pretty sure we got it from David, who probably initially got it from us when we arrived. So Holy Week has been full of doctor visits, a threatened trip to the hospital (thankfully we didn’t need to go that route), and now a baby & mummy who are likely both on the mend but, at least in the case of the baby, going through numerous changes of clothing each day as no diaper seems able to cope with the disgusting leaky eruptions of baby diarrhea. We were told it should clear up in a few weeks, but we’re praying it clears up a bit faster. It’s especially frustrating since he was almost back to normal after his last flu.

Needless to say, getting to church this week has been impossible. Getting to confession, which I’ve been trying to do for over two months, has also proved impossible (mostly due to illness). In all the scenarios in which I thought about celebrating my tenth Easter as a Catholic I never considered that it would be spent violently ill and nursing a sick baby. Ditto for how I imagined Walter’s first Easter.

The two themes that keep recurring for me this year are hope and suffering. I think we all have mental lists of things that that make us feel sort of secure. You know, “I may not own a home, but at least I have a husband” or something like that. This past year & a half I have watched most of my Security List disappear. When I lost my home, when it looked like both of us were going to be unemployed, when my savings were replaced by about four times as much debt, when despite all my efforts I couldn’t even keep the three of us together in one country any longer, I thought “at least I still have my health”. But for the past two months I’ve lost that too, and worse than losing it myself, I’ve seen my little son go from one illness to another. So much bad has happened that I mostly spend my time empathising with Job and tending to think that we are under some concentrated spiritual attack. We’re not the only ones – 2012 and early 2013 have been nightmarish for a lot of people. Our struggles are nothing compared to what some people I know are going through.

But through this all I have hope. I have hope that things are going to get better, and that God will ultimately take care of us, even if we are allowed to pass through this shadowy valley for the time being. If things in this life never improve, I have hope that we are being perfected for something in the next life. And I have hope that my current trials will serve to make me more empathetic, patient, and understanding.

This Easter is the first one where I have started to understand being united with Christ in suffering. And, as I wait with the rest of the Church for Easter morning, I have hope in the plan of God and the glory of things to come. 

Meister von Messkirch -- Christus am Oelberg (The Agony in the Garden)

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