Rhetoric Race and Religion Contributor
from Diary of a Christian Universagnosticostal
I was in church today when the inside of my purse began to glow. I recognized the light… It was my cellular phone. I grabbed my phone and rushed into the hallway.
“Hello,” I whispered, afraid that the echo would carry my voice back into the sanctuary.
It was my mother. She was calling from the hospital in Ohio which is where she’s been for the past two months. My mother suffered a stroke in early February. She had surgery to remove a massive blood clot from her brain and has been in recovery for several weeks. It didn’t shock me that she would call during church hours on Easter morning. After all, she’s still putting certain pieces back together– things we all take for granted… Times… dates… days of the week.
I sat in the corridor of the church and chatted quietly with my mother while echoes of the pastor’s sermon ruminated throughout the hallway… Mom and I talked about everything and nothing at all. Her speech and language skills were choppy, but of course it didn’t matter to me. I was almost moved to tears several times as she told me about her own joy and optimism despite her health setbacks.
My father walked into Mom’s hospital room and offered to escort her to the cafeteria for an Easter meal, so we hung up. As I pressed the red “END” button on my mobile phone, I realized church was over. People began to pour out of the worship service into the corridor and toward to the dining hall. I stayed for a short while to socialize before deciding to head home.
When I stepped out of the church, I was immediately greeted by a warm, sturdy breeze filled with expressions of life… the scent of flowers and trees… echoes of people laughing… the aroma of food in the air. It occurred to me while standing on the porch of the church that the wind had brought me a gift– a whiff of what it truly means to be alive… an invitation to enjoy the intricate beautiful details of the world around me. On my way to the subway station, I stopped at the park and sat on the side of the fountain to enjoy my surroundings.
While sitting in the park, I observed a Caucasian man and an African American toddler (an adopted daughter, maybe?) laughing and walking together… A woman and her boyfriend whispering to one another as if they were the only two people left in the world… Two men holding hands and walking slowly together in the warm sun without shame or haste.. An elderly couple sharing a conversation in a language I didn’t understand over an enormous ice cream sundae.
I thought about my father’s undying devotion to my mother and the many hospital meals they’ve eaten together as she’s battled with one frightening illness after another, and I thought about all of the people in the park, and the aromas of new life in the air– and it occurred to me that those things are what Easter is about.
Easter is about the relentless LOVE that transcends the barriers that we have all created in this world. The Resurrection is about God’s ever-renewing, inexplicably powerful, unconditional, hopeful, loving embrace of all humankind. It is a yearly reminder of God’s transcendent love, and a reminder of our responsibility to “pay it forward”.
I sat in the park and enjoyed the expressions of life and love that surrounded me until 10 minutes had gone by… and then 30 minutes… and then an hour. I looked at my watch and realized that I had gotten lost in the moment despite the chores that awaited me at home.
As I descended into the subway, I realized that I’d experienced a momentary encounter with the Divine. I had heard the still, small voice of God in the wind and it sounded like everything around me. It sounded like my mother, and it sounded like wind rustling in the trees and the laughter of a child. Truly, everything was new in that moment… I took a deep breath and said inside my heart without wavering: God lives.