Friday, April 09, 2010

Friday in Easter Week

The school schedule just happened to end up placing Middle and Upper School Chapel on Friday this week, the same day that we also have Lower School Chapel and a Faculty Eucharist at the Lower School. Jesus rose and rose and rose again... This homily was from the Faculty Eucharist, the first service of the day, using the gospel lesson appointed for Friday in the week after Easter...

John 21:1-14

My daily schedule is unintelligible to many, including myself sometimes, as I move back and forth between campuses, teaching here, praying there, meeting somewhere else.  Most days, though, I find myself in my car just before noon, just in time for Garrison Keillor's Writers Almanac on National Public Radio.  He reads a poem and shares birthdays and anniversaries of interesting literary and historical events and figures. Wednesday of this week, it seems, was William Wordsworth's birthday, and even as Keillor's gentle baritone narrated a glimpse of Wordsworth's life, my thoughts drifted to one of very few poems I can recite by heart.  It is Wordsworth's "Intimations of Immortality," in which he muses, "Trailing clouds of glory do we come from God, who is our home."  Wordsworth laments that as we grow older those clouds of glory seem to dissipate, or perhaps we simply forget how to see through them.

I've often lingered over the mental image of literal swirling white and blue and gray and gold clouds following us in our childhood.  So soon after Easter, that image swirled into memories of seeing something like clouds of glory inside a church celebrating the day of resurrection in grand style with plumes of incense wafting out of thuribles being swung as the procession moved down the aisle and the congregation sang, "Jesus Christ is risen today.  Alelluia!"  Those clouds of glory lingered in the sanctuary long after the worship had ended and the congregation had returned home to their Easter hams and chocolate eggs.

I wonder what is was like when Jesus stepped out of the tomb early on that first Easter day, when the morning clouds lit by the risen sun swirled around him like glory.  For brief moments from that day forward the women and the rest of the disciples were sometimes able to see his glory and know that it came from Jesus' true home with God.  But then they would just as suddenly forget how to see through the clouds so that Jesus would appear to them a stranger, unknown.

What happens to the glory we see on Easter?  Does it linger?  Does it fade?  Does alleluia become a word we take for granted and everlasting life just a stock phrase in our prayers?  This Easter season, let us try to look at the world through swirling clouds of resurrection light for as long as we can.  Let us see Jesus wherever we see boundless love, graciousness, generosity, and hospitality.  Let us see him in the clouds of glory trailed through this place where we work in the wake of children who have not yet forgotten how to see God.  Let us wrap ourselves in glory, breathe the alleluia and laughter-incensed air, and rejoice in resurrection.  Maybe, just maybe, our own lives made new by the risen Son, we'll remember how to glimpse the glory that we still trail, for our home, too, is with God.  Amen.

Artwork: "I Am," by Claudia Smith; "Light Inaccessible," by Barbi Tinder.

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