Still close to the empty tomb, before the proclaiming begins, the women breathe in and out. Breath becomes the first method of processing what has happened. The story of Jesus has not ended the way that they assumed it had. Breath prepares them to greet the new, unexpected narrative.
This first week of Easter, I have practiced Surprise Relief through the simple act of breathing, pausing, and reminding myself – the story does not end the way that we are convinced that it will.
The simple act has had a profound impact as it has begun to raise my awareness to all the times when I have assumed the trajectory to be set. Too often, I foreclose on my agency or on hope for change. I bend to implicit forces who are out of my control – forces which appear to not bend or waiver, enacting their will consistently and relentlessly.
I assume my children to always be on the verge of a meltdown which will drain my energy. The day never has enough hours for me to complete everything. Our governor will ruin our state by the time he’s left office. Our president will inevitably lead us to disaster as everyone in politics prioritizes their own survival over the country’s moral integrity. White people continue to degrade black people and ignore our country’s devastating past of slavery. Sexism relentlessly categorizes people based on gender, seeping into every small act and grand aggression. The news brings bad news each morning, without fail.
I set the sign out in my yard, and I prepare to go with the will of the seemingly-predetermined path. All is futile, so I spend my hours anticipating the dangers to come.
But the empty tomb. The lilies. The good news.
Surprise (adj).: Unexpected, astonishing
Relief (n.): Feeling of reassurance (removing of doubts or fears) or relaxation (removing tension or anxiety) following a release from anxiety or distress.
If Easter signals the beginning of the greatest news, then this Easter season must begin with breathing in and out.
I breathe in the unexpected sight: foreclosure sign removed and keys placed back in our hands.
I breathe out the doubts, fears, tension, and anxiety: these lives we live are not owned by external forces, nor are they at the mercy of our own limitations. Our lives are planted within the resurrected Christ. We are hidden in the one who denied the world’s foreclosure and resurrected God’s agency to love, to live, and to hope.
Inevitability no longer rules as sovereign.
Impossible no longer describes our dreams for peace.
What if the story does not end the way that we assumed it will?
What agency is restored to us? What will we do with it?
What hope lives within us? Where will we live it out?
First things first…Surprise Relief. Breathe in, Breathe out. Go Forward.