Easter. I am always mindful and very aware of this time of year.
Easter in my childhood was very different than the Easter I have come to know as an adult missionary in Asia.
Holy week is the most significant holiday for so many here. But what there is that is holy, always leaves me stunned, with so many questions.
I remember the chocolate bunny from my grandmother that was childhood Easter.
And the turkey dinner with family that had come from afar.
And the Easter Sunday morning joyous celebrations of
Jesus is Risen!
Aside from feeling sad that Jesus had been crucified, there was nothing that felt dark.
Easter was safe and warm. It was the salvation that my childhood held so dear.
Now, all grown up, with over 100 children in my care, I struggle at Easter. There are no chocolate eggs to hide, nor are there roast turkey dinners with families. This is a place where there is no innocence. The darkness of Maundy Thursday and Black Friday is known to even the children.
And it seems that now, more than ever, there is darkness and fear.
Men get prepared. They walk for hours in the hot streets, beating themselves in a tranquilizing rhythm. Vivid re-enactments of the crucifixion
will touch almost every community.
And on Black Friday, the heavens will stand still. The wind will be silent. And the sun will barely move. And amidst the rituals of pain and penance, I wonder how I can speak into any life when I feel the hopelessness of so many who believe they must pay for their sins directly.
Somehow, they have missed seeing the saving power of the cross and they hang themselves on makeshift crosses... begging for mercy because of murder, drugs, violence, and hatred. Others beat themselves beyond recognition, begging for God to heal their loved ones, to bless them, to help them, to please, please, please...
And the darkness is not only seen. It is felt.
Because in this country, God will die again, as they believe He does every year.
And I struggle to bring light to these children who have known so much darkness already, in just their few years.
I must teach them that it is
good and wonderful and beautiful that Jesus died because He rose again.
For each one of them. So that they could live.
A little boy stood, awkwardly, clutching a dirty blue bag of smelly 'hand-me-down' clothes before me. His paperwork said, Foundling. Unwanted. Name unknown. Age unknown. His speech was garbled. His body full of scars. But it was the terror in his fleeting eyes that struck me. I knelt down.
Who did this to you, I asked? And I could not help but touch the startling scar, the disfigured leg, and his little cheek. His eyes locked in on mine. I didn't move.
My heart is heavy. Do we have room, Lord? Can I love another one, Lord? Our home is so full. And some of us are weary.
Weary of the fight. Weary of doing good.
There are no tears, Jesus, though my heart is broken for this child.
But my tears seem to be used up.
Is there any hope?
And suddenly, I see Him. He is there, in the room, his arms outstretched.
Just as his arms were stretched out on that horrible cross of Calvary.