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  • Writer's pictureJulie McKay, FCP

Far from Easter Joy

Updated: Apr 23

Cross and Altar

He is risen! We have journeyed through Lent to arrive at Easter joy. But what if we feel very far from Easter joy. Our life circumstances may have delivered us a natural Lent, allowing us to enter into that season of patient suffering and loving sacrifice, but what do we do when the time comes to rejoice and sing "Alleluia" once more? We may be suffering in various circumstances. You might be experiencing primary or secondary infertility. You may be grieving the loss of a baby to miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss whether recent or years ago. You may be avoiding pregnancy either temporarily or permanently while your heart yearns for another child, another baby to love and care for. How do we switch into Easter joy mode when we are in a season of suffering? How do we rejoice when it still feels like we're waiting (patiently or not so patiently) for our Easter joy to be realized? I don't pretend to have all the answers. These are weighty questions. However, let's reflect on a couple of themes that can aid us in this Easter season.

First, two things can be true. Before you throw rocks at me for falling into relativism, let me explain. Two truths can coexist. Jesus was present to the joy of the first Eucharist and of sharing a meal with his closest friends, while he knew Judas would betray him and Peter would deny him. His agony in the garden was imminent, and from my own human experience, I would hazard to guess that he already was feeling that agony at the Last Supper. He broke bread with his friends while knowing that shortly, they would fall asleep when he needed them and that ultimately, they would leave him in his darkest hour of the Passion and Crucifixion. Likewise, two things can be true for us in this season of Easter. We can be grieving, we can be suffering, and we can be in the waiting, while we are present to the joy of Easter, of springtime, and of new life. The suffering doesn't need to push out all joy from our lives. We can hold the two in tension.

Second, it is natural and good to be longing for more. Even just typing this, my heart rebels against it. Being left wanting and longing is not comfortable. One part of me wishes it were not true. Our hearts will always yearn for more and never be satisfied here on earth. I wish I could tell all my clients struggling with infertility that they will conceive, that their Lenten suffering will be transformed to Easter joy. I wish I could tell my clients who have experienced a perinatal loss that the grief will someday go away completely. Unfortunately, I can't. This longing for more, however, is good when it is properly oriented. If we were totally satisfied here on earth, we would forget to long for Heaven. We would forget that we were made for more than this world has to offer. We would forget whose we are and to whose heart we long to be united. Only in Heaven will there be no more suffering, no more longing, and no more yearning for more.

So to the one suffering and struggling to feel Easter joy, I see you. God sees you. Take all the mixed feelings, the struggles, the sufferings to Jesus. He knows them already, but he longs for you to bring them to him, to tell him about it, to lay down at the foot of the Cross, to find his peace in the midst of it all. He can handle all of it.

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