I wrote about Lent as we prepared for Lent, as we were in the midst of Lent, and now, as you read this, for Christians, it is the Easter season. The liturgical season of Easter lasts longer than the liturgical season of Lent, and with good reason.
Times of fasting must give way to times of feasting, lest we lose our understanding of what life is all about.
Life is not meant to be low, sad and dreary, but it often is. Life is not meant to be full of pain, loneliness, and suffering, but it often is. Life is not meant to be hard, toilsome, and without reward, but it is often is.
That is the condition of this world. We see it over and over again as illness crosses borders and fills hospitals, as wars begin and continue, as the news continues to tell us what devastating things take place inside and outside our borders. Closer to home, we see the world in pain held within the hands of our community in the grieving families, the struggles to make ends meet, the sorrows of those who see our children suffer or ask for help because they cannot buy groceries this month.
Even as we find goodness and joy in the season, that does not mean that all those difficulties have disappeared.
They have been transformed.
They have been filled with meaning. It is a reminder that this darkness is not all there is.
I sat back on Holy Thursday, asking myself, why do I feel this heaviness in my heart? I thought of the word, “solidarity.”
Solidarity, according to Merriam-Webster means, “Unity (as of a group or class) that produces or is based on community of interests, objectives, and standards.”
Whatever your belief system, there is something to this solidarity. We can have solidarity with others incidentally through those shared experiences. HYBS families have solidarity as they take kids to practice, and haul their wagons and water bottles for a day in the sun to support and celebrate their child’s involvement in a town and family tradition.
At Passover, Jews have solidarity as they observe Passover around the world, whether with family or separated, they are united. Continuing the tradition connects them not only to each other across the world, but to past generations, to the Israelites freed from slavery in Egypt, and to future generations to come. That is the power of tradition. By religious and cultural practice, they join in something bigger than themselves.
And we can choose something similar.
By considering the mundane difficulties of our usual day, by taking the pain of crisis or sorrow of grief, and choosing to pause, holding it in our mind, and then turn out thoughts to those who suffered in the past, those who suffer now immensely, whether by war, grief or illness, we can choose to unite our suffering with theirs. It is a spiritual choice. It will not show up on paper or tax returns, but it will alter how we live our lives, either by putting our suffering in a new light or reminding us that we are not alone. We are not the first to walk this path. We will not be the last. We connect with those living now, with those who have gone before us, with those who will come after us.
Others searched, desperately, for hope in times of darkness. Others sought purpose when to continue felt futile. And if you are suffering now, you can too.
This may be a strange Easter message
But the reality is that times of celebration do not make the experience of suffering disappear. Those who grieve recognize the struggle to be in the moment of festivity but carry something much deeper, perhaps darker, in their hearts.
We hope that times of festivity show us, not that all is glorious, but rather a promise for the future, that one day, our suffering will be turned into joy. That those who mourn will be comforted. That those who hunger and thirst will be filled.
Solidarity. It is more than sentiment. It’s a movement towards unity, understanding and care for one another that could change the face of this land.