This has been an Easter weekend of experiencing opposite ends of the spectrum of life. Abounding joy of the resurrection of Jesus has been tempered by the reality of this earthly life.
Yesterday we went over to one of the seniors' manors and celebrated the 90th birthday of one of our parishioners. It was a joyous occasion and our 90 year old friend outlasted every one of us at the party. She was up on into the night, after everyone else had left, reading her cards and having a great time remembering all the folk who travelled to share in her special day.
From her party we went up to the next floor of the manor to see another parishioner. It was a big bump back to planet reality when we visited with her. She is much younger than our partying friend, but less than a month ago was flattened with congestive heart failure. She has basically come home from hospital to die, surrounded by her family and it could happen any day. Some of her family members were there to help her and stay with her. Her final question to my husband before we left her was "Why do these things have to happen?" It speaks of the state of her depression over this health issue, her desperation to hang on, to stay with us all and not have to face more suffering on the road to death. I hope we were able to comfort her before we left. I hope she will be able to grasp onto the Jesus she knows well between now and the time of her passing and get the comfort from him that he is so eager to give.
Today we woke up to wind and sunshine. Now, mid afternoon, the wind has died down but the rain clouds are building to deliver another deluge over the next few hours.
As we left the house, rejoicing in the upcoming service of the resurrection, we discovered a crow with a badly broken wing flapping in confusion across our front yard. It broke our hearts to just leave that bird to whatever fate, but there was no time to put it out of its misery and we don't know the laws here regarding the putting down of injured wildlife. I can only pray it was discovered and dealt with by one of the other neighbours before any cats found it. Seeing its distress and knowing the final outcome made for a rather upsetting start to our drive out of town.
As we drove along, committing the fate of the bird to the Lord, our car started to shake and we realized we had a low tire on the car. It did get us to the other town and back, but it didn't make for the relaxing drive we remember from other years of doing Easter morning services here.
Along the way, we rounded a corner at top speed and discovered a small herd of antelope prancing along beside us in the ditch. Just as we noticed them and started to slow down, one of them leapt up onto the road in front of us. My husband "stood on" the brakes and swerved to avoid the antelope at about the same time it realized it was in danger. As it spun around to get out of the way it lost its footing on the slippery tarred surface of the road and took a nasty tumble, landing heavily on one hip. My husband pulled over to the other side of the road and we watched to make sure the antelope hadn't been badly injured, but fortunately it went leaping away with the rest of the herd, bruised but not slowed down. Fortunately there were no broken bones in its leg, our biggest worry after the way it slipped and fell.
Both church services went very well. The joy of our congregants in both churches helped dissipate that nagging sense of worry about the birds and and animals and our dying friend. My husband talked about how the resurrection itself can seem like such a fairy tale, too unreal, not applicable in any way to life in the real world where suffering and death continue all around us. He talked about how we can make better use of the life of Christ in the resurrection than we often do as Christians. He talked about how for Christians, resurrection life for our spirit is like the air that we breathe for our bodies. It isn't enough to know about the workings of oxygen and respiratory systems, we have to breathe it in to receive the benefits of it....take it into ourselves. So also with the resurrection life of Christ. Many of us know much about Jesus and the resurrection, but we have neglected to receive that Person and power into our own lives, so are not benefitting from them the way we could and should be.
So this weekend we have seen life at its best and worst moments through the lives of our parishioners and through the wildlife that surrounds us here.
For me, the good news is that He Lives!! He lives with us in the comfort he can bring when there is suffering and the excess of joy he can bring when we have times of celebration.
The Lord is risen!
He is risen indeed!