I tend to get writer’s block during the week leading up to a major Christian holiday. I feel all this pressure to say something BIG and UNIQUE and IMPORTANT, to present you with prose that does justice to the magnitude of the moment. After all, I’m a Christian writer, right? I should be able to find something lovely and profound to say about Jesus’ resurrection for heaven’s sake.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I’m not grateful or don’t appreciate the momentousness of the occasion. I get, as much as my limited human brain can comprehend it, the magnitude of Jesus’ sacrifice for me. If I allow myself to stop for a minute or two and think, really think, about what his road to Calgary must have been like, about what it might have felt like to be nailed, metal through tender flesh, to a slab of wood, about the fact that I — deeply flawed me — can live free, totally, utterly and completely free in his grace…I am stunned.
Maybe that’s part of my problem – maybe the idea of such an astonishing sacrifice is simply too much.
At any rate, I’m going to let myself off the hook. I’m not going to write a traditional Maundy Thursday, Good Friday or even Easter Sunday post. Instead, I’m going to tell you about a sliver of beauty I glimpsed yesterday, right smack in the middle of my ordinary day. Because honestly, I think this unexpected bit of beauty says something about Easter, too.
I was sitting at the local coffee shop across from my friend Deidra. Deidra and I have recently realized that writing can be a lonely, isolating business (why it took me more than two years to discover this, I don’t know, but it’s hit me hard these last couple of months), so we’ve agreed to meet for “working dates” at Meadowlark once or twice a month.
I was supposed to be writing a devotion for my chuch’s e-newsletter, but I was doing far more gazing into the middle distance than I was actual writing, and that’s when I saw this:
Pinned among the detritus of advertisements and fliers — a missing cat, a search for a new roommate, an event long past — was a small pencil drawing sketched onto white-lined paper, one edge jagged from where it had been torn from a notebook, the other curled a bit, stiff from the arid indoor heat. It wasn’t a masterpiece, but it was startlingly beautiful in its own way, the woman’s languid eyes, full lips and strong brows a surprise amid the chaos of the bulletin board. I stared at the drawing for a long time, delighted by the unexpected discovery, a gem tucked among junk.
It made me happy to see that drawing, almost like it had been intended just for me. Somehow that sketch, the model’s penetrating gaze, her delicate nose, made me feel like all was right with the world. Tacked amid the world’s wants, it was, simply, an offering.
It seems to me that we are given the gift of Easter not just on one Sunday in 365 days, but in a thousand unexpected ways, in a thousand unexpected offerings, every single day.
A row of raindrops clinging to the stem of a rosebush.
A sweet compliment from the Walgreen’s clerk.
The scent of blooming magnolia wafting through an open window.
Forgiveness when we don’t deserve it.
Love when we don’t ask for it.
Beauty where we least expect to find it.
It’s true, Easter is flesh nailed to a cross and a stone rolled away from a tomb and the unearned gift of eternal life.
But look closely. You might also find Easter in a simple pencil sketch tacked to cork — unexpected beauty, unexplained gift, one of a thousand reminders of God’s abundant grace on an ordinary day.