When I was a student at Cathedral College in Douglaston, we celebrated Easter morning with a sunrise prayer service. We would go up to the roof of the then-recently opened college seminary and wait the first light of day.
Of course, the rising Sun was symbolic of the Risen Son of God. We watched and waited in darkness for the first appearance of light in the eastern sky. It was a beautiful ritual, made even more significant since it had been organized by the students themselves.
Watching the Sun rise is a magnificent spectacle. It offers hope because all of a sudden what was invisible to the eye can be seen with clarity.
The rising Sun is a symbol of Easter because it gives reason for hope that the vacancy of the night is not the final answer but simply something to be endured until the light of day.
There are signs of resurrection all around us if we only take the time to notice. The bitterness of winter chill gives way to the warmth of spring. The barrenness of the cold earth yields to sunlight, heat and eventually blossoms into flowers, greenery and other sources of natural beauty.
I recently had the opportunity to visit with friends recovering from the scourge of drug abuse and alcoholism. With the proper therapy that included the support of others, the desperation and hopelessness of being a slave to substance abuse was easing and smiles were returning. These were the faces of Easter people, men and women who were returning to life after a death of their spirits.
Someone once said that some of the greatest miracles were taking place in church basements and school halls where bands of folks were sitting around talking and supporting each other in groups of alcoholics, overeaters or friends of abusers.
These small miracles happen every day. Resurrection is taking place in places we least expect and right in front of our faces, if only we have the eyes to see and the ears to hear.
It’s not always so obvious unless we have suffered the defeat of a loss, or suffering of some kind. It’s hard to appreciate the newness of each day unless you have first travelled through some dark days of your own.
When we recognize the process and realize its potential, we become hopeful and joyful and want to share it with everyone we meet.
On Easter Sunday, we celebrate Jesus’ overcoming death by rising from the dead. It’s a matter of faith and we struggle to believe that something so wonderful could really be true. Look to the signs of new life all around you and they may help you to better understand that suffering and death is not the final answer but only part of a transition to a new and brighter future.
That’s why we proclaim “Alleluia” during the Easter season. We have experienced the light and no longer wish to have anything to do with the darkness.
As Christians, we are “Alleluia” people all year round. Put on a happy face and let others know that you have seen the beauty of life in the midst of the darkness.